View Full Version : Journal A Cleric's Vocation [3.5 Homebrew Campaign Journal]

2013-11-15, 01:54 PM
Table of Contents:

A Cleric's Vocation
- A Cleric's Vocation: The Game, The Setting, The Party (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16431121&postcount=2)

Volume I: The German Crown
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16431232&postcount=3)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16441917&postcount=10)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 3 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16452737&postcount=12)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 4/5 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16481097&postcount=16)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 6 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16532233&postcount=22)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 7 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16622980&postcount=25)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 8, Part 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16726267&postcount=34)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 8, Part 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16751676&postcount=41)
Volume II: The Wizard-King's Tomb
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 9, Part 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=17043207&postcount=53)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 9, Part 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=17062504&postcount=57)
- A Cleric's Vocation: Session 10 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?314722-A-Cleric-s-Vocation-3-5-Homebrew-Campaign-Journal&p=17378641&viewfull=1#post17378641)

The Other Campaign(TM)
- TOC: Setting, Rules and Party (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16634135&postcount=30)

Volume I: The Demon Prince
- TOC: Session 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16634385&postcount=31)
- TOC: Session 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16639352&postcount=32)
- TOC: Session 3 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16773678&postcount=45)
- TOC: Session 4 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16872129&postcount=52)
- TOC: Session 5 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?314722-A-Cleric-s-Vocation-3-5-Homebrew-Campaign-Journal&p=17230726&viewfull=1#post17230726)
"Well... we need a cleric."

This was how a friend from college invited me to a regular D&D game that had started up several months back. A co-worker's husband had actually created the setting they were playing, and run it several times since his days as a young serviceman back in the '70s.

Our close-knit group of twenty-somethings enjoyed all types of video games, but we were mostly newbies to Dungeons & Dragons. I was familiar with the general concept of D&D: stats off a sheet, dice rolling for randomization, turn-based combat, stacks of rulebooks, interwebs full of memes. But beyond sitting in on a one-night session back in high school, I'd never actually played. Knowing how much fun we got up to with the likes of drunken Mario Kart, I agreed to join up.

Of course, if I invest time in ANY game or fandom, I have to just get totally obsessed and research it like nobody's business. So while a lot of people might hate coming late to the party and being stuck as the "healbot," I had enough interest in what was going down (and was honestly curious in playing a party buff than a solo scrapper or tank) to take on the role with gusto. So we had a rather traditional adventuring party all lined up and ready to meet the world head on.

Let's just say not everything goes according to plan :) And it has been fun.

It's readily become apparent that I am taking more notes and sometimes keeping track of the party's progress better than the DM himself, so this hobby has also become an outlet for my creative writing, and generally letting my imagination and humor run wild (in RL I am also employed as a cleric...al worker, and there's only so much mind-numbing data entry one nerd can take).

About half of our game sessions have already been translated from shorthand notes into in-world prose by me, and there's still more game sessions planned for this year. So this'll be a thread worth checking back into.

Below I'll get into the setting of the game, brief backgrounds and relationships of each player, party makeup and then set off on the actual game session logs.


[And please, if you avert TL;DR Syndrome, LEAVE COMMENTS, positive or negative; I'd just like to see feedback]

2013-11-15, 03:54 PM
The Game
The game is 3.5 Edition D&D, with some minor mechanic tweaks per the DM. We gain max hit die at each level up, no need to roll. There is (at present) no resurrection; you die in the game, you're done with that character. The DM has amended since first stating this that there are "lost rites" to true resurrection somewhere, but presently nobody we've encountered has this ability (should prove interesting as I gain caster levels if he'll just block me from taking certain spells or open up quests to earn them :smalltongue:).

Speaking of spells, healing spells are adjusted to take too long to cast in combat, so I'm already barred from just standing in the back and buffing people. Healing is now a solely post-encounter action (feels very much like a console RPG with charging in, finger's crossed, hoping you can outfight the mobs). But, as before, there are no rolls, all spells heal for max points.

I would say for the rest of it, the DM is slooooowwwly leading us in to more and more complex play, introducing new considerations as we go, and generally giving us a wide berth as newbies (very generous). This does not mean he hasn't tried very hard to kill us.

The Setting
The game world is very much like Earth, with continents, countries and cities to match. Just not quite as we know them. Our starting point, and where we are all from (mostly) is England. 16th century England. In an alternate universe where important historical figures are pulled from all over as notable NPCs.

I'd best summarize it as Game Of Thrones meets The Tudors (only with less sexy naked fun-times). Low Fantasy in a developing age. There are steamships, some expensive/rare firearms and other facets of industrial technology (which may or may not come through in my sparse descriptions), but there's still Elves, Dwarves, undead and magic.

"It is a time of war and strife..."

Yes, the tried and true beginning, cousin to "It was a dark and stormy night..." and "You all meet at an inn..." (which we do... sort of). The various countries are gripped in border wars and internal civil conflicts. There is a dispute among the German nobles to who will rule all of Germany, Spain/Austro-Italy/France are fighting skirmishes with England and each other, the Holy Church is facing a schism (yay, history!) and there is talk of a Paladin, the first in a long period, in the mysterious "New World."

(This was all conveyed to the players in the 1st game session, which I missed, and I've had a dog of a time getting the DM to repeat things for me; thus my studious notes when I can get them and often sparse background details in the writing.)

Prior to this new Age of Exploration, Renaissance etc, were the Dark Times, following an apocalyptic war between the Elves and the Goblins. The Elves "won" by dropping a giant meteor/meteors on the Goblins (and the surrounding countries). Mages and Wizards worldwide died in an accompanying magical backlash, and Wild Magic was outlawed as a result. Now, magic is viewed with more than a little suspicion, and only divine spellcasters of the church are unharassed (by the law, at least).

Before then... no one really knows. Some records exist, but the prior civilization is largely lost to us. Though there are constant rumors of great treasure and ruins across the Great Sea in the New World...

The Party
Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen! A collection of foundlings and orphans who have reached the Age of Maturity (19) and are setting out in the world to make their mark...

Cohen, The Human Fighter: played by My Friend From College (an electrical engineer). Boisterous, loud, and sometimes a little foolhardy, ie the Classic Fighter. It's interesting because a very smart man is playing a somewhat dim character, and I heighten the disparity in my writing. (Why yes, we do all read Terry Pratchett:smallsmile:) Fights with mace and heavy crossbow.

Mokaaj, The Elvish Wizard: played by My Friend From College's wife (artist and japanophile). A bit of a curious pixie, she is of course working her way up to being a walking avatar of eldritch death. I wouldn't call my friend's wife a shrinking violet, but she often comes across as somewhat reserved with bursts of enthusiasm. So getting her used to immolating people and disposing of NPCs of no further use is fun. Fights with short bow, quarterstaff and MAGIC.

Wen, The Human Ranger: played by the DM's wife (co-worker of My Friend From College). Experienced for her age, capable in tactics and a dyed-in-the-wool professional. As her player has almost equal gaming experience to her husband, we often get additional coaching and strategizing from her. But she has no patience for story and just wants to dungeon crawl and kill stuff for loot. Fights with bow and... short sword, maybe? I forget.

Robynn, The Halfling Rogue: played by My Other Friend From College (computer programmer). This sweet-seeming individual resembles a human child, but is actually a cunning young woman making use of her appearance to better steal things not nailed down. Yes, Robynn is a GIRL (Guy In Real Life). Don't ask me, but the in-game RPing is hilarious. Fights with pellet sling and dagger (later modified short sword).

Dorsid, The Human Cleric: played by your not-so-humble OP (writer, IT guy, bookkeeper). Raised in an orphanage, then sent out to aid adventurers in the name of God, he's finding things rather... stressful. And he's developing a disturbing bloodlust. I'd say the best part about this experience is an agnostic Jew playing a devout warrior priest of the Catholic church. Lotta research for roleplaying going into this. Fights with mace and shield. Working up to fighting with the WRATH OF THE LORD.

He Who Must Not Be Overruled, The DM: played by my Friend From College's Co-Worker's Husband. Reasonable up to a point, and fair, but not at all standing for too much whinging or loose interpretation of the rules. However, the Random Number God does not seem to look favorably upon him too often (advantage us). Fights with mobs and editorial fiat.

2013-11-15, 04:11 PM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 1

Chapter 1, The World Is A Harsh Mistress
In the Year of Our Lord 15XX, I was acknowledged by the Church Leaders as having reached the Age of Maturity, and thus ready to continue my service to God outside the cloistered walls of the orphanage and monastery.

For many parentless 19-year-olds taken in by the holy church, this meant the start of a lifetime of hard, tireless work, aiding in services and good works until retiring to another monastery or abbey to eek out your last few breaths under the watch of other young initiates repeating the same path.

But I was not like those many. From an early age, the Brothers of my order had seen in me a great deal of talent for education and training; the deepest secrets of our religion, the histories of the lands (both known and unknown), the arts of exploration and mortal combat, the intricacies of healing medicine, and even the sacred rites of wielding divine power.

I was to be groomed as a wandering cleric. A pilgrim to wherever God felt the church’s presence was needed. While the bishops and cardinals were known to give directives to these men, they often acted on sole recognizance, reputedly guided by their prayers and faith in God. It was at once an honor and a terrible burden to be granted the office of cleric, but I had few better choices.

The Brothers who embarked on such missions were generally much hardier and leaner than the aged, portly keepers of the monastery. Many did not return from whence they travelled. Some returned years later, scarred and haunted by what they’d seen. For two years prior to leaving, my direct instructor had been Brother Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was a brutal teacher, unforgiving of timidity or temerity. Whether at scholarly study, combat exercise or survival training, he watched with his one good eye for burgeoning skill while constantly advising caution and patience. It was maddening. But many of the elder brothers swore by his reputation. He rarely spoke above a grunt, his every word a forceful command or guiding principle. I absorbed everything he said as if it might save my life. And it would.

After my recognition of proper age, I bathed and prayed overnight, as many of the feudal knights had, the next morning taking holy vows to my office as an ordained clergyman. While carrying the weight and responsibility of a member of the church, I was told, if rather implicitly, that much of the rules for priests could become more like guidelines to a cleric in the wilderness.

“The closer you are to the cities, the more you must appear penitent to the Bishops and Cardinals,“ Brother Xavier had said.

My most sacred vows were simply “listen and follow the will of God,” and “protect the innocent from evil and ungodliness.”

My last day at the monastery, a collection of worn clothes and equipment was granted to me, obvious hand-me-downs from various predecessors. I was also given a few vestments, which were not overly fanciful but new, as well as a plain wooden cross, blessed and sanctified by the Abbot. As I walked from the inner buildings through the courtyards, each elder brother offered me a few additional words of advice. I scarcely heard them at the time. I was focused on Brother Ezekiel, standing farthest out of the front gates. In his hands was grasped a battered, savage-looking iron mace.

“The world is changing,” he said to me. “But God is constant. Look to Him for guidance, and He will show you the path you must walk. Have faith and He will protect you.”

He handed me the mace, which seemed much heavier than it looked.

“This will help you protect others.”

And with that, he walked back inside and the heavy wooden doors sealed with a resounding boom.
Chapter 2, Off The Beaten Path
For several weeks, I wandered about the surrounding towns and villages. I learned of recent news, of the wars to the North, tensions within our own holy mother church, and the explorers of a New World far across a Great Sea. I aided where I could, offering prayers, providing care for sick and wounded, and ministering for food and shelter.

I looked on my early years at the monastery as a great period of misery and sadness. I had hoped that my voyages might lead me to much happier, warmer places. Instead, I discovered that much of the world was just as dark, hungry and cold as the one I’d left. Just as my warmest memories were of illuminated manuscripts and hopeful sermons, the little light I saw in these early days dwelled in the eyes of every parent of a child I prayed over to break a fever.

None of this felt as if it were my true duty as a holy cleric. Any wandering monk could minister these people, and I felt, I knew, that Brother Ezekiel’s lessons had been for something... more important.

One day, while finishing up some wheat porridge outside of a barn I’d been given the night to sleep in, I caught wind of a troubling rumor. A small village had seen several gruesome murders, but had no notion of a killer. The thing that caught my attention was the whispers of “dark and evil forces” being felt in the area.

It took several days of tiresome walking, but I finally arrived at the settlement just off the main road. It was so sparse and insignificant, it wasn’t even given a proper name by travellers. It was simply called the Waystation. There was no other place within several miles for caravans to pass and resupply, but it hardly stood out in one’s mind. It occurred to me how easily a dark power could begin to sow itself there.

It was just reaching the hour of fading light when I wandered down the main thoroughfare towards the center of Waystation. The only shelter for travelers was a rather small tavern, really more of a bar that happened to have an extra room. I noticed the largest group of people not presently at work or closing up shop was a set of four adventurers drinking outside the tavern.

At least, I took them for such by their hodge-podge of armor, clothing, weapons and equipment. And that none of them was a day older than myself. As I’d discovered upon leaving the monastery, “adventuring”- or rather traversing the roads and taking odd jobs for food and money- was often the best prospect for poorer youth.

I spied one of them, a burly sellsword at least a head taller than the others. He was downing a rather large tankard of ale and laughing heartily.

“Hail, warrior,” I called out.

He paused in raising his drink and shot me a look of puzzlement.

“Hail... person.”

“I am Brother Dorsid, of the Order of Saint Gabriel.”

“Well met, holy man. But we’re none of us looking to give up one life of poverty for another.”

He turned away.

“No, my friend, I am here about the evil.”

“And what evil is that?” He took a long pull on his drink again. I noticed the rest of his companions looking at me.

“I have heard of some recent murders in this area. And that they are not merely the result of mortal combat.”

The young brawler eyed me with what must have passed for a quizzical expression on his face. He was young, yes, but strong and tall. And there were already several deep cracks and odd lumps on his face, head and neck from battles of the past.

“Aye. There is some strange... religious business about all this.”

“I have some knowledge of these things. May I be of assistance?”

He chugged back the rest of the ale.

“You can assist me with my wounds first.”

I took note that he had several large abrasions and non-mortal lacerations still about his body.

“Yes, of course.”

“Been in need of a good medic.”

He clapped me on the back roughly. “I’m Cohen,”

“-this is Wen-” he indicated a young woman carrying a bow and clothed in less armor than he, but wearing a fair amount of sturdy cloth and well-worn leather boots. Likely a ranger.


At this he seemed to refer to a very young child covered in knives and various small tools. Her youthful features, however, belied her eyes and she had the kind of stare that ex-thief Brother Simon called, ‘a look that tells you they’d steal the clothes off your corpse or whenever you got drunk enough.’ A very short rogue, it seemed. But not Dwarven. Curious.

“-and finally Mokaaj.”

The last member was another young woman, slighter than Wen and quite pale without seeming sick. Unlike the others, she was clad in lighter, loose fabrics and carried a quarterstaff and heavy hemp satchel. A short bow was strapped against her back. She met my look briefly and then quickly turned away. And that’s when I saw her pointed ears.

“An elf? Here?”

Besides stories of the dwarves, stories of the Elves were the most popular among the orphans. Tales of their bravery, grace and heroic feats dazzled us in our youth. But they also came with grave warnings as to the ungodly forces they were said to weave. Once, when wild magic was not outlawed and destroyed...

“You can ask questions later.”

With that, Cohen led me back to the group’s shared room where I could bless and lay hands upon his wounds. He was immediately grateful, but also exhausted. He told me they’d found an underground crypt beneath a sewer drain, full of passages and strange rooms, but after encountering some violent thugs, they had retreated to marshal their forces. They were young and inexperienced, like me, and while brave enough to charge into unseen danger, they were not suicidal.
Chapter 3, Secrets Beneath The Streets
After healing Cohen, I bid farewell to the adventurers and made a stop at the other end of town, where a small church sat before the road curved out to the country again. I made my greetings to a fellow brother of the Church and stayed the night. At dawn, I met again with Cohen and his group to explore more of the underground catacombs.

“What can you tell me so far?”


The ranger spoke up as Cohen led us across the street to a metal grate that still had some rope attached and offered a vertical passage underground.

“In addition to spotting some human raiders, we came across several wooden barrels filled with an odd species of oversized, rotten flesh eating, purple worm.”

“Large, parasitic purple worms? I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“Nor have I. Anyways, we weren’t sure of the connection, but we’ve only explored about half this complex.”

We traveled down the drain via the rope, then organized in single file to wander the halls of the catacombs. Despite being carved under solid rock, the rooms and hallways were quite well finished, with more than a bit of artificing for doors and other mechanisms. I told myself I would look into some of the craftsmanship behind dungeoneering if ever I saw a library again.

After winding down several hallways the group seemed familiar with, we reached an unopened door which all treated with apprehension. The small rogue was allowed to the front to give an examination. She carefully poked and prodded at the door’s seams and gave several little taps, listening intently.

“What’s going on?” I whispered to Wen.

“She’s checking for traps. Dungeons are usually full of ‘em.”

“Clear,” the rogue called out.

“Alright, everyone get ready,” Cohen said.

“I thought she said it was clear?”

“Of traps.” Wen replied, notching an arrow to her bow. “No telling if there’s some more bandits behind that door, or trained beasts or what. Everytime we open a door, we’re ready for a fight. Basic rule of dungeon crawling.”


I held my mace unsteadily. I had some practice with close-quarters fighting, but never in as confined a space as this. With a silent gesture, Cohen prepared to open the door and have Wen shoot through at anything that moved. Before I could fully steel myself, the door was thrust inward and revealed-

A room with a chest.

Despite my relief at not having to combat the dark creatures of my mind, the rest of the group remained tense.

“Basic formation, spread yourselves carefully,” Cohen said.

I tried to ask what a basic formation was, but was quickly shoved through the doorway and stood in place in a rough semi-circle around what I could now see was some intricate altar. I held up my mace in my approximation of a fighting stance, though without an obvious attacker, it probably lacked much conviction.

“Alright. Check the box, Robynn,” said Cohen.

After several minutes of further tinkering, Robynn had established the box contained merely a two position switch. In a disguised door recessed in the wall, we found a path back to a golden statue of a mythical figure. I was told the group had encountered this creation when last they were here, though then it was self-illuminated and produced a healing aura (as well as various theological intonations). Now it was silent and even faced a different direction.

Wen consulted a hand-made map and had us venture into the room where they originally encountered the bandits, who’d fled down a long, straight hallway. As we slowly made our way through the passage, Robynn was the first to notice something wrong with the way our torchlight was cast down the hall. It was a strange optical illusion painted onto a door, giving the appearance of a continuing path where there was solid wall. What’s worse, both Robynn and Wen had stepped beyond the group to investigate this door, and there had been an audible click when they passed within ten feet of it. Robynn then made a brief motion to be still and scanned the surrounding area.

“Pressure plate,” she said.

“Is this gonna suck?” Wen asked.

Cohen quickly shuffled myself and Mokaaj all the way back to the room before the hallway, even pushing the young elf several feet away from the door. I began to offer a silent prayer.

“Well, we aren’t dead yet-” Robynn said.

“True,” Wen admitted.

“-But we might be if we can’t jump off this plate and run back to the door for cover.”

“...this is gonna suck,” Wen said.

“On three...”

“Now wait a minute!”



With that, both of them took a standing leap as far as they could, and as soon as their feet touched earth, began scrambling as fast as they could for the door. In their wake, a ceiling panel had swung down, and unleashed an avalanche of boulders and large rocks. Thankfully, this only filled a portion of the hallway nearest the painted door. Wen and Robynn stopped to catch their breath.

“Anyone hurt?” Cohen called out.

“We’re alright,” Wen replied.

“What about the passage?”

Robynn gave a brief look backwards at the formidable pile of rock that almost crushed her.

“I think we could climb over the stones if we had to.”

“Let’s backtrack and check out any other rooms first,” Wen declared.

She didn’t wait for any response from the rest of us, taking out her map and perusing it for unexplored areas.

“This way,” and off she went, as if her life had not nearly been ended moments before.

Chapter 4, The Savage Sarcophagus
After several minutes we arrived at another non-descript door. Again we aligned ourselves and I prepared myself mentally, now understanding how quickly such places could turn from quiet, abandoned crypts to perilous tombs of sudden death.

The room we burst into was much larger than the others, with a higher ceiling. Wen and Robynn walked around carefully, checking for traps within the room, and uncovering another door which wound back to other hallways. The most prominent feature of the room was a bizarre, opulent metal sarcophagus of unknown make and origin. It was covered in symbols I had not the education to decipher at the time.

Robynn made a move to begin checking for manufactured traps.

“Wait,” Wen threw out a hand. “Mokaaj...”

The young elf had been exceptionally quiet this entire time, but she advanced out closer than any of us to the metal structure. She extended a hand and closed her eyes. Her breathing became slow and deep.

“There’s something about it.”

“Something bad?” Cohen asked.

“Just... something. It has power in it, but I can’t tell more than that.”

She was magical. God in heaven, a magical elf. I found myself making the sign of the cross by habit, but no one seemed to notice. Cohen began barking orders for us to arrange ourselves. I stayed near the door in case I might need to beat a hasty retreat as Wen and Robynn had.

As the lid flipped back easily on well-crafted hinges, blocking Robynn’s view of the inside, an overriding sense of dread began to take hold of me. Within the sarcophagus was a corpse of some kind, wrapped heavily in worn bandages. Though it appeared human, there was no real way to tell, and any curiosity I had disappeared when a long, purple, slimy thing extended out of the creature’s mouth and lapped at my chest, leaving several stinging burns.

Mokaaj tried to come to my rescue but was waylaid by several of the mysterious purple slugs exiting from the inside of the coffin and attacking her. Wen was caught trying to shoot the creature, while Cohen aided Mokaaj, and Robynn complained about being unable to see what everyone was shouting about.

I attempted to use my torch as a weapon to set the creature alight, to little effect. The wounds I had been inflicted with were beginning to burn something fierce, and I feared a toxin or disease would claim me even if I survived this encounter. As I continued trying to wield my mace with some manner of effectiveness, Robynn had circled round and begun to use a sling to hurl rocks in an attempt to disorient the foul beast.

Finally, Wen and Cohen were able to rally and shred the monster of its last ounce of energy causing it to fall to the ground. Strangely, the minute it had, the body began to decompose rapidly, the skin shrivelling and then bursting open, revealing no entrails, but a writhing mass of the same eldritch worms.

Stifling a shriek, I hastened to stamp and burn these to death (which left a considerable stench) before they could flee. I took several minutes to attend myself and Mokaaj, finding no evidence of toxic poisoning at the time.

“That thing...” Wen said after several minutes of silence.

“It was like it wasn’t even a person, just a home for those... worms. Like they were wearing a skin.”

“But how did it keep from rotting?” Robynn asked, picking up the stone bullets she had lobbed.

This started a brief squabble among us, mostly driven by our limited personal experience, diverse background in written lore and sworn testimony by word-of-mouth. Except for Mokaaj, who was silent the entire time. Her sharp eyes remained fixed on the sarcophagus.

“It’s special...” she whispered.

Before anyone noticed what she was doing, she had leaned over the lip of the casket and was running her fingers delicately along the inside.

“There’s a switch, but... that could only be thrown from the inside. And this power, along with the creature...”

None of us was really following her, but we all regarded the metalwork with differing eyes of appraisal, Robynn most especially.

“It’s too heavy to get out without some rolling logs... But maybe w-”

And then Mokaaj had flung herself inside, shutting the lid over her.

Chapter 5, An Unexpected Outcome
“Mokaaj!” we all screamed in unison.

Before any of us could get our fingers on the sarcophagus, it began to hum, just on the edge of hearing, and there was a sense that the metal was gleaming slightly brighter than before. After standing around for far too long, the lid flung back up, and Mokaaj reached over the lid and vaulted herself back out.

“Mokaaj, are you alright?” Wen asked.

“Better than alright, I feel great!”

“What happened?” I asked.

“I don’t know, it was... strange. But good. The box fixed me.”

I blinked.

“Fixed you?”

“Yeah, it fixed my body and my mind and even my spirit feels lifted. I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt.”

I eyed her suspiciously.

“All that from lying down in a shiny box?” Cohen said.

“Cohen...” Wen began.

“One side!” he bellowed, and thrust his weapon into her hands.

Without stopping to listen, the brute jerked a leg over the side, roughly fell onto his hip and then slammed the lid closed again. The same dull noise and metallic sheen occurred, and several moments later he emerged again. He leapt full body from inside the casket and grabbed his mace from Wen.

“Zounds! I feel like I could slay two or three of those things single-handed.” He swung his sword several times, as if imagining the fight already.

“Something feels wrong about this,” Wen said.

While I wanted to agree, I was feeling no sense of foreboding, no chill or unease around the casket, like Brother Ezekial had instructed us. If anything, the device seemed weaker than when first approached...

“It’s running out,” Mokaaj said, almost as if she could read my mind. Elves...

“Hey, maybe you and I should jump in it together?” Robynn added with a wry lift of an eyebrow.

I coughed in response.

“Suit yourself,” and the tiny rogue walk to the rim of the case and flipped herself over the edge headfirst.

Several moments passed and she bounded back out, even more chipper and energetic than before.

Wen eyed me, half cautioning, half-daring me to test my mettle. I considered how helpless I seemed in the encounter before. I approached the strange coffin slowly, it now seeming much less ominous and ethereal than when we first happened upon it. I tried to sense some creeping notion of darkness or evil about it. There was nothing immediately present to me. With one last look back I stamped into the metal box frame, lay down and closed the lid.

There have been several instances when I have been connected to God, when I am sure of his presence and holy grace. When his blessing is upon me in a warmth and strength that I cannot confuse for any other. This was the first.

As I stepped back out of the case, I uttered a small prayer. I was not at all suspicious of the experience, but rather awestruck at what I now felt. Hardier and stronger than I had in months, perhaps than I ever had.

“Well, now that you’ve all had a deep drink of Dwarven fruit punch... can we get on with clearing the rest of this dungeon?”

“You’re not having a go?” Robynn asked, still bobbing about the room.

“Not if you paid me my weight in gold. I don’t trust that thing, no matter what you all say. For all I know you’re going to stab me the next time I fall asleep.”

“I’d’ve done that eventually, just because you’re competition for my share of the profits.” Robynn added with a smirk.

“Wen’s right,” Cohen said. “Let’s head back through the tunnel and root out any more of those bandit bastards.”

I coughed loudly.

“What, holy man?”

“Language, please.”


“Our refined friend has sensitive ears, Cohen.” Robynn said. “He meant, ‘professional mercenary’ bastards, kind sir.”

Robynn beamed as I rolled my eyes and followed the puzzled Cohen back out of the room.
Chapter 6, The Spoils Of Dungeoneering
We left the large sarcophagus in the room, and ventured back to the rock-laden hallway. With a little leveraging, Wen and Robynn were able to clear enough space for the group to clamber over the top of the pile and continue through. It went on for the better part of a mile, eventually opening into a natural cave formation.

There were several remnants of a campsite, but no one presently encamped. The cave was empty besides, and our party eventually entered back into daylight, with the cave opening out to wilderness, facing towards the Spanish border.

Rather than crawl back through the dungeon, Cohen elected we traverse back to Waystation on foot, and ask after the most knowledgeable person (my brethren in the local church) as to whether these worms and the sarcophagus had ever been seen before. After a night of rest and recuperation, we ventured back to the dungeon to collect what evidence we could. The worm’s charred, yet still sticky remnants were placed in a bag we could live without, but that still left the strange metal tomb.

“If only it wasn’t so damn big and heavy.”

“Well how heavy is it?” Cohen grunted, his bulky arms crossed in frustration. “Surely if we all tried together we could move it.”

“And then what? The easiest way out would be the tunnel and cave, and then the walk back to town!”

“Just get on the other side and lift.”

We all gathered on opposite sides, Cohen and I together, and the women on the other side.

“One, two, three, HEAVE!”

And at our joined effort, the dense metal coffin lifted up as light as a feather.

“Well...” Wen said, her hands full of metal that looked the better part of an entire army’s weapons melted down. “This is strange.”

“I told you it was special,” Mokaaj said with a self-satisfied smirk.

“Whatever. If it’s special, it’s valuable. Let’s get it out of here,” Wen countered.

It took several hours, but far less than if the case had actually weighed anything like it should have. Along with the sack of worm muck, the case was laid before the clergyman to examine. Not that it mattered. He had never seen such things before, and had no memory of any records detailing something similar. The events were wholly original to the denizens of Waystation.

Further on that, as our trek through the dungeon had both cleaned out the worms and scared off the bandits, the townspeople were mostly content to shove some small handfuls of gold into our hands, buy us all a round of watered-down ale and bid us goodbye. Cohen was somewhat miffed there was less than the bountiful reward he imagined, but Wen assured him we could turn a tidy profit on the sarcophagus.

The mystery of these worms and their sudden appearance (surely an act of dark arts) troubled me, and I voted we should investigate more into the history of such occurrences on our journey back towards greater civilization.

We threw some gathered tarp over the shiny metal of the sarcophagus, so as to remain unmolested by opportunistic highwaymen. Overall, we had the appearance of an overzealous funeral party.

2013-11-15, 04:19 PM

This is not going to be the specific feedback you are looking for, but after reading your whole post I don't have the time left to provide anything more substantial. Regardless, you shall be fed back at least in this form: I liked it.

2013-11-15, 04:21 PM
Glad to hear it :)

2013-11-16, 09:40 AM
I really like your way of putting the game into prose, and I also like Robynn.
Thanks for sharing!

2013-11-16, 12:10 PM
I was sure that anyone who got into the sarcophagus was going to be infested by those purple worms. Interesting that that didn't happen...

2013-11-16, 01:57 PM
Likeing it so far. Looking forward to more

2013-11-16, 08:51 PM
I was sure that anyone who got into the sarcophagus was going to be infested by those purple worms. Interesting that that didn't happen...

Actually granted each player an across the board ability point increase! (I know, what? Our DM was being SUPER generous at the outset.) I can't remember what the original score layout was, but we've used the "5 d6, 3 highest die" method, with allowances for re-rolls on multiple ones and like 18 chances for total rolls. So we weren't starting out poor.

And in the original playthrough, Dorsid and Robynn DID jump in the casket together... resulting in us combining and halving all our physical attributes and ability scores as well as gaining heterochromia. The DM thankfully allowed us a do-over on that. I am now super cautious with these kinds of decisions.

2013-11-17, 01:13 PM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 2

Chapter 7, The Founding Of A Company
Our group sojourned in several larger towns to resupply and put out feelers for information. Each time, before entering an incorporated area, we stopped and everyone removed their armor and weapons, packing them away. Upon departing, we would replace them once reaching a safe distance outside the city’s gates. By the third time this happened, outside of Portsmith, I ventured to ask why this was necessary.

“Against the law for anyone but soldiers and certain nobility to carry weapons or wear armor,” Wen replied.

“Except for bonded adventurers with a charter,” said Robynn.

“Aye, except those lot,” Cohen agreed.

They all continued packing away their things as if this settled the matter.

“So... why don’t we have a charter?” I asked.

“Well...urm...” Cohen said.

“They’re usually carried by older, more established groups,” Wen said.

“So there’s like trials and things to qualify for?”

“Er... no... I don’t think so, “ Robynn said.

“So then... what’s stopping us?”

“A charter probably cost piles of gold,” Robynn said. “Have to go to a town registrar and everything.”

I frowned, pondering all this as I donned my vestments and tried to look priestly and harmless for walking about a guarded town.


“200 silver,” the old city clerk said flatly. He barely looked up from his paperwork, scratching out thin squiggles of ink into tiny columns.

I frowned. “I’m sorry, 200...?”

“200 silver coins, lad.” He looked up at me as I eyed my money bag and hefted it in my palm.

“That would be 2,000 copper.”

“Right. And, in gold?”

“Twenty gold.”

Between begging, my earlier healing work, and the little we were rewarded by the people of Waystation, I had just over 100 gold pieces. Rather than overly debate the matter, as I could see the clerk light and begin to puff a clay pipe with some irritation, I dutifully counted out the money.

“One adventuring charter, please.”

“Right you are, sir.” He dug out some fresh parchment and began to jab his quill at various places, filling in bits of information, the names of the various members, our country of origin, etc.

“Name of operation?”

“Um... Excuse me?”

“What’ye call yerselves, then?”

“Oh, um, not really anything. What sorts of names do people choose?”

“All sorts really; Knights Of The Shining Path, Seekers Of The Hidden Portal. These days most people put in an animal and try to make it sound extra official. Like, er, Eyes Of The Beholder Investigations or Manticore Securities. Your lot hunters by trade? Blades for hire?”

I thought a moment over our recent history, and recalled the stories of Brother Simon.

“We’re more in the... artifact reclamation business.”

“I see.” A brief squint crossed his face, and then the clerk grabbed a battered, leather bound book off a nearby shelf. “Here, have a look through this...”

The title identified it as Sir Reginald’s Bestiary And Wildlife Guide. I spent a few minutes going through the pages when I stopped at a particularly graphic sketch and read:

“...It appears as if the Mellivora Capensis has no concern at all...”


I displayed the unfolded parchment to my comrades. It was expertly written in flowing script, mostly rote language, but there was the power of the crown behind it. At the bottom was the official seal and signature of the notary. Our name was across the top in a bold, even grander script.

“ 'Honey Badger Acquisitions. No job too dangerous' ,” Robynn read. “I like it.”

“Honey badger? What sort of dreck animal is that?” Cohen scoffed.

“The book had a picture of one devouring a wild Naga.”

“I LOVE IT!!!” he cheered.

I folded the paper back into the leather pouch the clerk had given me and slipped it into my pack.

“Now we can carry our weapons and wear armor. Not that I’d wish to encourage fights within the city.”

“Smashing,“ Cohen clapped me with a strike on my back that almost sent me into a wall.

“What now?” Robynn asked.

“I’ve asked around in every town we’ve been in, but there’s very little record of anything the likes that we’d seen in Waystation. The incidents that were recounted were of an almost exact nature to our experiences. But there’s nothing detailing how these events came about.”

“What about the sarcophagus?” Mokaaj asked.

“Also relatively unknown. There are some rumors of other such creations abroad in the New World, but everything’s rumored to exist someplace there. The only other place I can think to seek more information is London.”

“The capital? Well, I suppose we could venture there. We’d get more information, and definitely find a buyer for this.” Wen thumped the casket thoughtfully.

“There is one other place,” Cohen said.

We all turned to look at him.

“The Dwarven capital.”

Chapter 8, Across Rivers And Thresholds
Several hours after our departure from Portsmith, having crossed the great river Thames, we found ourselves marching along the Western bank towards the city of the Dwarves, located somewhere in the county of Dale.

After crossing the river once, Cohen had forbade further travel by river, even when we were discussing traveling up to London before crossing the northern border. With this and his opposition to crossing the Great Sea to venture to the New World, I had begun to wonder if our stalwart warrior was afraid of water. Unlike my other comrades, I was brave and stupid enough to directly ask him.

“Of course," he stated. "The depths have felled many a strong warrior.”

“Ah. I understand now. To be killed so easily by something outside of combat. It must be horribly unnerving...”

“Eh? Who’s talking about dying? You take a dip in your gear and it all sinks to the bottom. Unless you’ve a mind to enchant your belongings, you’ll lose them quite easily to the drink.”

“...Oh. I see.”

“Indeed. Keep asking the right questions and we’ll make an adventurer out of you yet.”


Several days later, we came within sight of a small mountain wall. The grey rock was at least three men high, and well smoothed by the rains and years. Looking up, there was a further slope receded from the edge of the wall that terminated much shorter than an average peak, suggesting a plateau or, more likely, a valley beyond. I thought I could see some evidence of smoke beyond, but it was faint and blended easily with the clouds.

After several more minutes, we spotted two burly guards flanking a set of heavy iron doors. The doorway was beside a stream branching off from the main river to pass under the mountain. Upon closer look, both of the guards seemed identical: shorter than average height (though still not as small as Robynn), almost as broad with muscle as they were tall, clad in iron armor more intricate but no less hardy than the doors they guarded, and their features hidden behind incredibly thick eyebrows and facial beards.

An appraising look was all they gave us as we approached with the covered sarcophagus, though I noticed both of them straightened their axes alongside their bodies.

“Hail, dwarves of the mountain!” Cohen bellowed.

“We seek passage to the great city! We wish to barter with your noble merchants!”

With each sentence, Cohen gestured wildly with his arms, and each word was mutilated into individual syllables so over-exaggerated and mangled, I wondered if anyone would have understood him, English speaker or not.

I produced a small cough and asked everyone to lower the coffin to the ground. I produced the adventuring charter and handed it over to the guards with a polite bow of my head. They murmured between themselves for a moment as I backed away slowly. Then, before I could receive a response, I threw back the tarp of the sarcophagus. The sun was soon to disappear over the mountain, but still able to cast a brilliant sheen off the features of the strange casket.

The burrowed eyes of the guards widened slightly at this sight, and they whispered more furiously. Finally, one advanced to Cohen and shoved the folded document back to him, muttering, “You. Wait.” in a heavy accent before disappearing through the iron doors. The other guard shifted his axe into both his hands, laying it across his chest, signalling that making any moves towards the door was likely not in our best interests.

It was almost an hour or longer before we saw the other guard again, and he simply uttered a command to the other dwarf, and they both opened the heavy doors together. I nodded and smiled amiably and moved back into position so we could all carry the coffin through the doors.

Just as we passed the guards, a heavy boom sounded as the outer doors were shut and we found ourselves sealed into a now one-way tunnel.
Chapter 9, In The Hall Of The Mountain King

Beyond the doors, the outdoor gravel walking path became a smooth stone walkway, with stone posts beside the rushing stream. Torches sat every twenty feet in heavy, black iron sconces large enough to be wielded as weapons. Across the stream, this was mirrored by the opposite bank, providing a well-lit, level shore on either side to guide a barge up or down the way.

“Let’s be on,” Wen said. “I’ve no desire to wait around.”

We marched with renewed effort, eager to finally unburden ourselves of the casket and have a new place to purchase wares and choose our next destination. The tunnel went on for quite awhile, and the further in we walked, the hotter it became. Even the rushing waterway seemed to have steam rising from its depths.

The tunnel ended in another series of doors, as well as a heavy portcullis spanning the width of the dwarf-made canal. Just as we prepared to approach the double doors, they were flung open by an unarmored dwarf with a noble look about him.

He was dressed in finer garments than his brethren, and his beard and hair were braided in intricate designs and bound with various jeweled clasps and golden rings. Upon his fingers sat many gleaming rings, and I noticed he had a habit of wringing his fingers over them.

“Greetings, young warriors,” he said.

His voice was less gravelly than the guard’s, but there was still an odd timbre to his words. He gave us a wolfish smile, but I could see the cunning glint in his eyes.

“I see you have brought us a treasure. Something you think we might value, yes?”

“It came from a crypt, far to the east, near the Spanish border,” I said.


His fingers played with his rings some more, and he began to step closer to us.

“Might I see it?”

Cohen kept a strong hand on his mace, but gave a look to Wen, who nodded. Without another word, Cohen flung back an edge of the tarp. Even in the dim light of the tunnel, there was a majestic sheen to the sarcophagus. The dwarf inhaled slowly, striding towards the casket without any regard for the armed strangers around him. He reached for the metal but kept his hand just above the surface, as if feeling for heat. And then he closed his fist and rapped the metal with one of his rings, listening intently to the peal.

“Alright. 1,000 gold.”

I had to suppress a choke.

“Nay, master dwarf. That’s unacceptable,” Cohen stuck out his chest in protest, attempting to use his height as further leverage.

“Ha ha. Alright, young warrior. 2000.”

Cohen deflated a bit, apparently wishing his stature would’ve carried more. He peaked again at a swift jab in the ribs from Wen.

“4,000. No less.”

The dwarf scoffed and rolled his rings some more.

“No, I think not. 2000 each is a fair price.”

“No it is- Did he say EACH!?” Robynn squeaked from the back.

Wen and Cohen shared a look.

“But of course. It took each of you to acquire it, no?”

“That is most acceptable. Thank you, sir.” Wen said with a light smile.

While my comrades were already trading grins and no doubt dreaming of what they would buy with their share of money, something still gnawed at my mind.

“Sir, I must ask you about this casket.”

“It is not a casket. At least, not that we know of.”

“Oh? What is it then? Where does it come from?”

“To be honest? We have no idea. But we know what we use them for... Come.”

And with that, he walked back through the heavy doors. Not wanting to wait longer than necessary before claiming our gold, we quickly gathered up the strangely light metal construct for the last time and followed.


Beyond the tunnel, the temperature soared. There seemed to be much greater light as well, despite the absence of torches. Passing a small garrison of armored guards watching the doors, we took in the much larger and open room before us. The high ceiling echoed the thundering sounds of smithing going on. Our host was walking among various work stations, and every scruffy, soot-covered worker stopped to acknowledge him graciously and accept some whispered direction from him.

Beyond the crush of dwarfdom surrounding us, there were the smelting pits. About half a dozen within my range of vision, and several more giving off a brilliant light in the distance. The vats of molten ore were so bright, many of the metalworkers wore smoked glass lenses to shield their eyes. It was only as I looked back from these gleaming miniature suns towards the cargo at my side I realized something.

“Put the sarcophagus down,” I said firmly.

“What?” Cohen asked.

“Put it down.”

We lowered the large metal box gently, but it seemed to greet the earth with a ponderous thud regardless. Many of the dwarves who had been chattering with one another suddenly threw their attention towards us, the tall interlopers. I grabbed one edge of the tarp we’d been using to cover up the treasure, causing Cohen to seize my wrist.

“Trust me,” I told him.

“I trust gold more.”

“Cohen,” Wen interjected. “They’ve already pledged to pay us. Dwarves don’t welch on deals like humans.”

“Indeed,” the dwarf noble piped up again. He was flanked by two others, elder craftsmen it seemed, with strange looking glasses wrapped about their heads and various tools upon their waist belts.

“Please,” he gestured towards the tarp, baiding me continue. With a look to my economical-minded companion, I slowly drew back the material, revealing the gleaming container. It was the same as all the mighty compartments being used throughout the cave. All of the dwarves watching inhaled audibly. The craftsmen advanced, ignoring the glares from Cohen, and set up about examining it, whispering to each other with barely contained glee.

The dwarf noble smiled and waved us onward, disappearing into a side room. We followed one by one.

Chapter 10, Barter and Beer Steins
“Adamantine,” the dwarf noble said. “Excellent for metalworking. Handles extreme heat very well.”

The room had many shelves containing various scrolls and tablets, as well as a finely crafted wooden desk, on which sat small a cask of ale and enough steins for all of us. Our host bade us drink with a gesture, but only Robynn and Cohen partook.

“So you use these things as forges?” I asked. I was piecing together what I could remember of the descriptions of dwarf mines and dwarf smiths from the monastery’s library.

“We use them for many things. Several of the most valuable are being used as powerful engines.”


“Dwarf workings. You wouldn’t understand.”

I frowned but kept my tongue. Brother Maximus often pressed the importance of choosing when to be silent in matters of diplomacy.

“Suffice to say, it is a good and useful tool we have delivered to you?”

“Suffice to say.”

There was a gleam to the rich dwarf’s eye.

“Now-” he clapped his hands together. “You were each promised 2,000 gold, I believe?”

And with that, several small chests of gleaming coinage were hauled before us by burly clerks. Cohen and Robynn began happily dropping the precious metal through their fingers before Wen stifled a cough and gave me a look. I sidled over as discreetly as possible.

“Do you have any idea how difficult it will be to carry all this back to a human settlement? Least of all one with enough markets to properly spend it?”

“Erm... Very difficult?”

“Yes, monk, very difficult.”

“I’m not actually a-”


Wen gathered the others together and questioned if we were to arrange some form of transport for this treasure, or find a way to transfer our wealth more easily. An idea occurred.

“Good dwarf,” I turned toward the noble. “While we are most gratified by the fulfillment of our terms, transporting this currency presents problems for us.”

“Indeed it does.” He pulled out an ornate silver pipe and began to puff contentedly on it. “You should figure some way to deal with that, lad.”

Another wolfish grin peeked out from his beard.

“Might we have... a form of writ, perhaps? A letter of credit?”

“I don’t want a bloody letter! I want my gold!” Cohen cried.

“A letter of credit is just as good as gold, Cohen. And it weighs less.” Wen murmured.

“Oh... Well then... That would be... good.”

“Indeed, indeed,” the dwarf lord nodded. “Of course, there wouldn’t be much good taking such a letter outside these walls. Not many other places would recognize it.”

Again the beard was parted and there was almost the faintest gleam emanating from his mouth. Was there some diamond or other precious gem hiding amidst his teeth?

“Are there other options for our reward?”

“Of course!” the dwarf bellowed cheerily. “We could hold your gold in reserve, like a bank, until you were able to reclaim it properly.”

“Hold it? Nobody’s holding me own damn gold for me.” Cohen barked.

“Yeah, that sucks a lizard’s tail,” Robynn chimed in.

“I’m afraid I must... agree with my comrades sentiments. Colorful as they are...”

“I give you the assurance of the Dwarf King, your gold will be kept with the greatest security.”

“How generous,” I half-smiled. “Given that it is technically his gold until we claim it.”

“Well...” the dwarf pondered this laboriously. “Yes. That is of course true.”

“How nice,” Cohen grumbled. “The Dwarf King promises not to give away his gold until he has to.”

“Yes. I find it very convenient not to give my gold away to strange children who bring rare treasures to my doorstep.”


I stopped short. The cleanliness. The clothing. The jewelry. The deference of the other dwarves to a non-worker.

“You are the Dwarf King,” I said.

“Aye, lad,” he answered with a majestic grin.
Chapter 11, To Arms, To Arms
After several more minutes of hushed conversation, our group had struck a deal. Wen and Robynn would acquire a new bow and dagger respectively. The rest of their gold, as well as Mokaaj’s, would be transported by a pony Wen would procure and make use of, whom she dubbed “Coin Purse.”

Cohen and I, as both a gesture of goodwill and opportune purchase, would dump our reward into full plate suits of armor and new weapons. Cohen assured me that products masterworked by the Dwarves were a rare and precious thing to own. I warned him of the dangers of Pride.

“It won’t be your pride the next bandit wounds when an arrow slips through this,” he rubbed at a loose piece of my tattered clothing and worn leather padding.

I acceded the point. It made me ill to think of all the quickly acquired gold I would be spending on personal armor, rather than donating to the needs of the poor and hungry, but I recalled the lessons of Brother Ezekial, and how a cleric was often a church unto himself, carrying the riches of God into the lairs of Evil.

It was several weeks of waiting while the dwarves smithed and fitted our armor. Time that went by anxiously for the others. While we were guests of the King, the outer city was mostly closed off to us, and there was little that it had to offer for non-dwarves anyway.

The final fitting, when I donned all of my new armor for the first time, was a moment I still remember even now. While more cumbersome than my vestments and airy robes, the armor was surprisingly comfortable and very empowering. The plates themselves interlay beautifully, and there were even small designs of crosses and holy symbols throughout. Now most of my body was hidden behind strong plates of steel, and then cloth, padding and leather. There was even a full helm if I chose to wear it.

Cohen’s was much the same, though it was obvious his was quite literally tailored to his larger frame and more aggressive attitude. Studs and animal imagery abounded. Along with the new armor, Cohen hefted one of the new maces the dwarves had crafted for us. Perfectly balanced, they gleamed much more brilliantly than the pitted dark iron of my previous weapon. Rather than a rounded, solid club, these were sharp-edged scepters of wicked violence.

“Oh yes,” Cohen grinned. “I can do a fair amount of damage with this.”

I tried to smile, but the thought of needing, let alone using these new tools had made me a bit squeamish. A pair of dwarves approached, carrying what looked like a collection of bent wood, metal hinges and taught cord.

“Aha! Thank you, gentledwarves!”

He reached down and hefted the thing in his arms and leveled it against his shoulder, eyeing down the length of it.

“A masterwork heavy crossbow. This beauty can penetrate any poor sod within 100 feet dead-to-rights.” There was a subtle hint of lust in his look. “I shall call her Diana.”

I tried to make my expression less pained and more encouraging.

“You see, there was once this tavern girl...”

“That’s alright, Cohen. You can tell me another time.”


Our retinue left the Dwarven Capital as unceremoniously as we arrived. Without the adamantine sarcophagus, we made much better time to the capital of England, London. There was a bit of hesitance as we marched towards the city gates, well-armed and armored, but a quick wave of our adventuring charter and we were past the guards and onto the cluttered streets.

There are a many great publications regarding the kingdom’s capital, so I shall not bore you with such details of our brief visit here. As it was, several hours walking got us little in the way of information. The church was still in contentious debate over the recent schism, and the leadership of the crown was also growing shaky. As we reconvened after some small amount of resupply, the next idea was raised almost immediately.

“We should go north,” Wen said, half into her ale so as not to draw attention.

“Aye,” Cohen murmured. “The war offers much more than the whispers around the cities.”

“And what part do we have to play in the war?” I asked.

“Fighting, of course,” Cohen lifted his eyebrows while eyeing a waitress.

“Yes, but for whom?”

“Whoever pays the most,” he replied.

The conversation continued on, but we were mostly certain of its eventual conclusion. There was nothing more for us to do about the ugly deaths, mysterious worms or valuable relic hidden beneath an out-of-the-way town at present, and I knew my comrades were keen on pursuing jobs that paid well, of which there were few in our home country.

By nightfall, we had made a plan to cross the German border to try and seek work as a mercenary band, though I doubted the legality of such a notion, let alone the morality. I trusted God to provide as he had already, but little did I know how true the words of my Brothers had been.
- Yes, it really did take us a while to question why we couldn't just buy a charter, and upon hearing the number, I plunked down the cost myself. Very glad I did. The naming conventions of adventuring companies largely had the name write itself, as incorporating "honey badger" into the title was a unanimous vote, and the rest was just claptrap.
- For whatever reason, the DM has the Dwarven capital unnamed. It's supposedly within/near the county of Dale, but it's not known as 'Dale' itself nor properly incorporated as part of it (despite being the most prominent feature of the territory). We didn't really get into the geopolitics of one kingdom nestled inside of another.
- After some comment by the DM, My Friend From College is quite certain the reason we're being pushed to take a boat to the New World is so the DM can shipwreck us ashore with all our gear lost. He's been very adamant about walking, even though it takes longer.
- Our host was immediately known to us as the Dwarf king; I just scripted the scene differently for dramatic effect. This encounter was also my first major RP encounter, with Dorsid doing the majority of the talking, but nowhere near my last. I very quickly learned the term "party face (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheFace)."
- Masterwork armor and weapons before level 4? Once again, our DM was being extremely generous to first time players. But we'd need all this stuff with what was going to be thrown against us... Also, most of the shops had very little to offer when we asked the first several sessions.
- Wen's pony actually went unnamed for two or three sessions (honestly, how many players name their pack mules?) But writing about things without names bothers me, so I settled on the obvious. The DM's wife was most pleased. I tried to get My Friend From College to let me call his weapon Vera (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ICallItVera), but he overruled me.
- It doesn't get much description in the text (largely because we didn't get to do much there), but the Dwarven capital is not unlike Ba Sing Se (http://avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Ba_Sing_Se) in it's construction, if not as grand in size.
-Lastly, if the geography and names seem a bit squiggy, just hang in there. Things get clearer (or more confusing, I suppose) further on.
I've got two or three more Sessions already written, and I'm working on catching up to where we're currently playing (plus our secondary campaign being run by Robynn's player is set for next weekend; I don't do detailed write-ups for that, but if I run to the end of prepared content, I can post summaries of how that's going).

2013-11-17, 04:07 PM
I love the choice of Honey Badger for the adventuring company mascot. That piece was rather brilliant.

Also, I think MW full plate and weapons are within the WBL for 3rd level, if you don't have much else anyway. And boy howdy does it help.

2013-11-19, 12:09 AM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 3

Chapter 12, Over The Border
Early the next morning we left the city and made our way north, with a bit of winding such that our intended destination might not be obvious to any patrolling guards of the army. We needn’t have worried, of course, as most of England’s royal army had been retained in the capital and several other major cities.

Within a few hours, we were across the northern border without any trouble or fanfare at all. No one spoke, but I knew we were all hoping to not immediately stumble upon a battle before we had aligned ourselves under some banner. Well, perhaps not Cohen. Or Wen. Maybe even Robynn...

“Look!” cried Mokaaj suddenly, causing Robynn to hop behind my legs, dagger drawn.

She was pointing at an inn nearly at the horizon, admittedly a bit far for the rest of us too see clearly. The building was similar to a lodge, long and drawn, with a high roof and second story walkways. There were a number of horses being bedded in the stables as well as many more at posts that surrounded the outside.

“Yes. A good place to gather some intelligence,” Wen said.

“And some German beer,” Cohen added, absently stretching an arm.

“Not the inn, the elves!”

We all squinted more intently at this; there were indeed a small company of elves standing around the outside of the building, some tending horses, others drinking and talking amongst themselves. This was apparently not too unnatural a sight on this side of the border, as none of the humans seemed very interested in so many elves out in one place.

“Maybe they’ll have some information for you,” Wen said, walking up beside Mokaaj.

“No, I... it would be too impertinent... I wouldn’t know how to-”

“Let’s get a move on, I want a drink,” Cohen declared, marching past them both.

We all hurried after him, trying to keep a tight formation. We were in unfriendly territory, and it would be a bad idea to present a target for stronger fighters or large raiding parties. The inn was a small refuge in a large, turbulent wilderness.


Sadly, there was little for either our party or our resident elven mage to glean from the assemblage. The rumors on this side of the border were much the same as before. If there was any new information to be found about the regional conflicts, beyond the fact that there was no undisputed ruler of all Germany, it would only be found in the royal courts or on the battlefields.

Even worse, there were no recruiters for any army or mercenary band. Indeed, it seemed there were few, if any mercenaries in the country at all. Everyone fighting was either native-born or pledged to a particular lord or lady until death. Without much conviction, we proceeded back on the well-run roadway.

The land was much like I’d read, but words were a pittance compared to the sight. The forests of England seemed somehow more bright, lively and green, while these were gray, bulky and contained of a somewhat haunting aura. Even in broad daylight, the realm seemed rather dark and ominous. I was glad to be travelling with several armed fighters.

“I mean, really, what idiot would just set up a table at the nearest border tavern and take on fresh mercenaries? Right in the midst of all the other bannermen?” Wen said, as we trod on deeper into the country.

“I would,” Cohen said. “Best place to do it. Anyone tries to steal your men, you fight them right there in the bar; show the new recruits who’s boss.”

“...I repeat, what idiot would do so?”

“ME! I just said!”

“My friends...” I interjected.

“I’m trying to point out that a five-person company, freshly minted, marching into a warzone-”

“We’re on a cart path! There isn’t any war for miles! Not that the stories would have you think that!”

“My friends!”

In the midst of Cohen and Wen’s argument, a small platoon of 20 or 30 armed men rode up over the distant hill and began to head straight towards us. The group fell silent. It was only then, as so many armored, banner-waving cavalry bore down on us, that I realized how far we’d come from the inn, with no other travelers in sight. We were likely well into a claimed territory without realizing it.
Chapter 13, The Lady Of Stuttgart
“Stay calm... and make no sudden moves,” I said.

“Are you telling us or yourself?” Wen chided.

As the cavalry surrounded us and lowered their spears, I carefully held up my crucifix with one hand while reaching another into my satchel.

“Good morrow. Would any of you godly men be familiar with the English language?”

A proud-looking fellow in sterling armor at the back narrowed his gaze at me.

“I would, holy man,” he answered with a modest accent.

“Ah. And you, sir, are...?”

“Captain of the Lady of Stuttgart’s Guard.”

I mentally thanked God for his will that only well-read soldiers were left in charge of large groups of noblemen’s armies.

“The Lady...?”

“ ‘The Lady’ is all you need know, trespasser.”

“I do beg your forgiveness, but we are not trespassers.”

“No?” he sneered.

I took a moment to check the number and conditions of the spears that were still mere inches from our faces. They were many and they were sharp. I slowly held out the signed charter we’d had written in Portsmith.

“We are bonded adventurers.”

The captain of the guard held out his hand, though there was a gulf between us. I smiled broadly and handed the leather binding to the nearest spearman. I hoped that the symbol of the cross was universal enough to warrant less suspicion, my armor and weaponry notwithstanding. He raised his spear briefly to reach for the parchment and pass it back to the Captain.

“Bonded adventurers?” he said, reading.

“Yes,” I answered.

“Recognized by the authorities to carry weapons and arms peaceably in good faith?”

“Yes,” I replied, my smile never wavering.

“In the domain of England?” he said, looking right at me with an icy glare.

“...Yes,” I confirmed, my mouth beginning to hurt, eyes almost watering.

“You will come with us.”


We were marched along the path by the Captain and his men for several hours. I tried to convince myself it would not be much different than if we were being escorted as guests rather than prisoners of war. I kept my eyes forward. Mokaaj did as well, trying to appear for all the world like a very pretty human with no suspicious traits whatsoever. Cohen kept his eyes to the sides, looking for any weakness to exploit. Wen and Robynn kept their eyes on Coin Purse.

Eventually we arrived at a vaulted castle, with numerous wide, cylindrical towers and tiered levels of open walkways with many arches and intricate masonry throughout. As opposed to the crusty, crumbly old facades in England, this castle was like something smoothly carved from the earth and left to bake in the sun.

We were led into the gatehouse to give up our arms and armor while within the grounds. There was much grumbling, but everyone knew we had little choice. Cohen kept swearing we could take on the mounted guards, but the rest of us quietly dissuaded him.

After a gracious chance to wash ourselves from a sheltered trough, the guards led us before the main hall, but held us outside as the Captain went in and, I assumed, made announcement of his capture. It was an agonizing amount of time before he returned.

“Follow me. Do not attempt anything.”

And then he was gone. I confidently strode ahead, as if merely visiting a friendly abbey, while the others no doubt wished they’d still had their weapons.

Inside, the hall was somewhat narrow but just as high-ceilinged as it appeared from the outside. There were several thin windows set high in the walls for light, and there were various drapes and banners of deep blue throughout. Apparently the house colors. At the end of the hall was a modest, high-backed oaken chair, with several guards flanking it.

Our own squad of silent wardens had led us to within 50 feet of this chair and then stopped abruptly. They marched directly in front of us, as if enforcing an invisible line, then took up positions along the opposing walls. It was evident we were about to be audience to someone.

As if on cue, the Captain appeared from a side chamber, still holding our charter. He announced something to the hall at large, which had surreptitiously filled with various minor court officials, head servants, and landed gentry. They all fell silent quite rapidly as a woman entered from the same side chamber.

She was scarcely older than the Captain of the guard, but carried herself with far more weight. Her dress was the same color blue as the surrounding banners, but far less opulent than I’d imagined from the picture books within the church libraries. But then, I was meeting a true noble woman for the first time, so who knew how they dressed on average? She was vaguely pretty, more handsome and austere, with long dark hair and stonecut features.

“So... you are the young adventurers my captain found on our border.”

Her voice was even less accented than the Captain, but also less frosty. There was almost an air of being bored with such matters as bloody war and armed interlopers to one’s sovereign land. I attempted to recall my lessons of protocol from the elder brothers.

“My great lady...” I bowed as humbly as I could manage, almost falling over in the attempt.

“...I am Brother Dorsid, a cleric of the Holy Church.”

“And which church would that be?” She asked.

“Er... the Church, my lady.”

“I see...”

“As the charter you have seen attests,” I rallied, “we are a bonded company of adventurers.”

“Yes, I can read, cleric,” she said with a sigh. “What are you doing so far from your homeland? Invading to pillage my land?”

There was a short round of laughter. Which was good. Certain forms of laughter meant death, other forms meant your death might be put off for a bit longer.

“No, my lady. We had ventured to your lands on the news of the wars. There is little honest work for young adventurers in England. We had hoped to ply our trade on behalf of your vaulted house.”

The noblewoman passed a scrutinous eye around at my assembled comrades.

“And what... On earth... is your trade?”

“Allow me to introduce our company...”
Chapter 14, A Task Of Great Import
I stepped backwards slowly, maintaining the slightly hunched posture of one trying to seem ever-humbled by their august host. I gestured towards Cohen.

“This is Cohen, mighty warrior...”

At this, Cohen stepped forward and began to flex and contort his body, as though he were a circus strongman. I tried not to visibly cringe.

“...Wen, expert marksman and tracker...”

Wen nodded thoughtfully, trying to suppress a snicker at Cohen’s antics.

“...Robynn, ...erm... expert in antique acquisitions...”

The small thief produced a wink and circled her thumb and pointer finger.

“...and Mokaaj, elvish natural alchemist and loremaster.”

Mokaaj gave a deep curtsy.

The Lady was quiet for several moments.

“How exactly are five amateurs to be of use to my kingdom?”

There was an amused murmur from the crowd.

“Um... forgive me, my Lady-”

“I think not, Brother Dorsid. Your little band has quite encroached upon my mercy already.”

She leveled a withering glance while waving her hand vaguely.

“You have an oaf with armor worth more than all the food he’s ever consumed, a peasant girl with a bow, a child pickpocket, a cloistered monk with a smart mouth, and... an elf. Who appears to have nothing but a walking stick and a bound book to her name.”

Cohen raised his arms as if about to pose again, but I rested a hand on his shoulder and shook my head.

“Umm... excuse me...” Mokaaj piped up. “But we are more than we appear.”

The room grew hushed. I suspected they hoped for a good condemnation before we were executed.

“Indeed, young elf? Is there something I have missed?”

“I am... I have...”

I gave a look to her and saw her hand idly pass into her hemp satchel, gripping the leather bound book I’d often seen her intently studying whenever we stopped. There were also moments when she made notes in it, but I thought nothing of an elf being able to read and write. They were a wise and ancient people by and large, and had once been a great power with their armies and magicks-

I looked at Mokaaj with wide eyes. Her gaze met mine and she seemed to question me whether to continue. I nodded.

“My people,” Mokaaj said, “are well regarded for their... unique individual abilities and powers...”

The Lady stiffened somewhat.

“Give us the room,” she half-croaked.

When the commoners hesitated, she repeated it louder and in German. The crowd quickly dissipated. Then, to the surprise of all of us, the Lady stood up from her throne and advanced towards us. The guards quickly followed, hands on their swords. She stopped only a few feet from Mokaaj, who was looking very uncertain.

“Show me...” the Lady said.

“I don’t-”

“Show. Me. “

With a brief look around, Mokaaj muttered a word and held up her palm, eliciting a foot of golden fire. She moved her fingers, causing the flame to ebb and flow slightly. The Lady watched with rapt attention, before snapping, “Enough.”

Mokaaj clasped her hand shut and doused the flame. She almost looked embarrassed. A magick-wielding elf wizard. God preserve us. Her very presence in the capital would have caused a riot, and no doubt an immediate execution wherever the royal guard caught her.

The Lady turned away and spoke something in German to the Captain I did not understand. Then she turned back to our group, and there was the tiniest quirk at the corner of her mouth.

“Perhaps you are right, and I have misjudged your character. I think there is a service you can render unto me.”


The Captain disappeared into the antechamber again, while the Lady resumed her place upon the throne.

“I have need of messengers. The country is in a state of turmoil, and diplomacy is difficult to attempt. Any of my own riders would be shot on sight.”

The Captain returned, carrying a simple wooden chest. He placed it on a side table and opened it, removing five rolled and wax-sealed parchments. These he handed directly to Mokaaj.

“There are five other lords to whom you must deliver these messages, located in Frankfurt, Auschwitz, Wurttemberg, Munich and Nuremberg. I have but the simplest writ of passage to give you, and no guarantee for your safety.”

The Captain handed the writ to Cohen, who had it snatched from his hands by a sighing Wen.

“What about horses for the journey?” Cohen asked.

“Only you can ride well,” Wen hissed quietly.

“I’m afraid I can’t spare them,” the Lady replied.

“An armed escort then?” I ventured. “We are going into disputed territory.”

“All the territory beyond England is disputed,” the Captain sternly added.

“You are not highly valued, young priest. You are young, poor and desperate. Exactly what my kingdom needs for this mission. If you succeed, wonderful. If not… I have other options.”

And then we were dismissed.
Chapter 15, Flames Against A Night Sky
Our equipment was granted back to us, along with some additions to our meager supplies, and the Captain had us out the gates and back onto the road within the hour. A few glances back showed that there was a scout or two from the cavalry watching us depart, “probably to make sure we left and didn’t try to sneak back in,” Robynn added.

Wen had managed another passable map from some begrudging soldiers, the Lady’s seal thankfully communicating much better for us than any attempts at German. Our first two stops required a trip across the great river for a silver piece each, and the others would be back on the eastern side, but farther north. We camped in wooded areas by day, trying to avoid ambushes at night.

By the third evening, we were getting used to being alone on the trail, without much sign of the raging battles and strife rumored to be around us. And then we caught sight of the burning village.

From just the outskirts, we could see most of the buildings had been set fire on one or more corners. Nothing too serious yet, but they would be ash and cinders by morning. The raiding party wasn’t large, only a dozen men at most.

“We have to do something!” I said.

“This isn’t our business, Dorsid, there’s a war on,” Wen said.

“This isn’t war! It’s robbery!”

“We’ve been hired to deliver a message, not fight for the common good!”

“Everyday we must fight for the common good!” I was becoming agitated.


The warrior was mulling over the situation, hefting his mace again and again in an anxious motion. “I think-” he began, but stopped short as a loud scream carried from the town to us. One of the building’s outer walls. There was a woman being dragged round, already beaten. A man in a dark fabric hat flung her to ground. I don’t remember what everyone shouted. I just remember running flat out. And the weight of the mace the dwarves had given me.

Later, I was told that Cohen ordered everyone to keep back and go for range. He and Robynn had loaded ammunition while Wen and Mokaaj readied their bows. By the time I made it to the man, hollering something to get his attention, he’d already been pierced in the chest by an arrow. I shoved him back against the wall, cracking his skull and knocking him out. The woman was half-unconscious.

I knelt to help her but heard a shout from Cohen. There was another man coming from around the corner of the wall. I hefted my mace, taking a stance of defense and met him head on. He was just an average man, dressed in clothing dirtied by travel and scrounging, and wearing another black hat. He took one look at me, the woman and his comrade, and the mace in his face. He swung his club at me with a howl.


As I tangled with one group of attackers, Cohen, Mokaaj and Robynn moved towards the center of town, hoping to come round in a pincer. They soon met their own resistance. Wen had kept near the outer flank with me, hoping to give further aid. She needn’t have bothered.

The bandit’s first attack caught me square in the chest… and rebounded with a loud clang. My opponent was somewhat stymied by this, leaving me an opening. I took it. I don’t remember completely how it happened, where each blow landed, but eventually, the man feebly countering against my attacks and struggling against my armor was dead on the ground.

I had killed him. And I had meant to.

“Two more!” shouted Wen from behind me, letting loose two arrows in quick succession.

It went on like that for awhile. We met all of them as they came out from the burning buildings, half of them with some small valuables in their hands. Between my comrades’ unrelenting marksmanship and a handful of final blows from my mace, we felled them all.

I kneeled for a moment, taking my breath and reciting a prayer. A large, rough hand met my shoulder. I had nearly raised my weapon when I saw it was Cohen.

“The fires... we must put them out…” I said numbly.

He nodded and went with the others. I tended to the woman, who I was able to offer some meager comfort and restore to some semblance of health. She murmured to me in German and I led her away from the corpses of the men we had slain.

It was reaching the morning light by the time the flames had been snuffed and the small village fully accounted for. Three young children had been found hiding inside two buildings. Besides the woman, there were no other survivors.

We huddled the ashen, shaken villagers into the least damaged building and saw to it the woman had some amount of supplies to keep them alive until help arrived. There was little else we could do, especially as any conversations attempting to learn more from the exhausted woman descended into a series of exaggerated gestures and overly enunciated words in a foreign language.

Our bedraggled, somewhat bloodstained company was just approaching the edge of the village when several hundred peasant farmers surrounded us with flaming torches and various sharpened farming implements.
Chapter 16, A Trap Is Sprung
I muffled the small voice inside of me that wished to ask God where these people had been the previous night. In the fresh morning, gazing at the singed roof thatch and slightly organized piles of corpses, the villagers seemed less than genial at our presence. Despite my presentation of the Cross and more animated attempts at conversation, I feared we were about to be done in by a riot of German peasantry.

Thanks be to God, the surviving villager was roused by all the shouting, and forced herself between the crowd and the group of people who had just ambushed and killed a small force of seasoned raiders. There was much heated debate, but after seeing the remaining children and poking a few bodies, the farmers relented and let us leave. I didn’t want to think of the terrible situation the country was in with this becoming a daily possibility.

The next several days had us even more on our guard. We tried to keep an eye out for armed bannermen as well as raiders, but cutting our way through wild brush and navigating towards the noblemen’s keeps was difficult, even for Wen.

Eventually the sight of a high-roofed city began to dominate the horizon. The structure of Frankfurt was much more vaulted and narrow than the Lady’s domain. Each building was slightly different, yet followed similar lines of woodworking and colorful masonry. Even now, I can almost smell the ostentatious air.

Our reception was guarded, but much less hostile than that by the Lady’s army. Indeed, after showing our writ of passage and the seal of the Lady, it would seem we were no small source of amusement for the castle. Brought before the lord of Frankfurt, I almost expected him to ask us to dance, sing and perform tricks in his presence. Beyond hushed conversation and a little extra food as gifts, the first visit was rather uneventful.

Another half day and we approached Auschwitz nearing dusk. We hoped the lord was half as welcoming as his illustrious neighbor, being that we could all use a fair bit of rest and shelter from an approaching rainstorm. The look of the second lord’s castle was in stark contrast to the first: it was less a tiered pastry of masonry and more a solid block of impregnable foreboding. Squat and thick, the entire structure had no features that were not absolutely necessary.

We approached calmly and confidently, bonded adventurers that we were, carrying diplomatic missives and with a smiling man of the cloth as our public face. We were promptly thrown into a cell.

Well, less of a cell and more of a large stable and jail with the rooms divided by bars and not walls. It may have just been a precautionary measure with all travelers. Either way, it was a good several hours before we were spoken to by anyone, not even the man who brought water and stale bread for us to share.

When we were called into the inner walls of the fortress this lord called home, it was to be shouted and barked at by a large, feral looking man cloaked in leather and furs, with a pensive secretary standing beside him. Several grueling minutes of translation and finger-led reading ended in the acceptance of our letter, a dismissive wave of an axe and a swift march all the way to the borders of the lord’s territory.

We decided it best to continue on as far as we could, hopefully trying for the river by sunrise. Just as dawn gave way to bright mid-morning, we came within sight of the rushing banks. The ferry captain remembered us from our trip across before, cheerfully greeting us and requesting one gold piece each from such successful travelers. We dutifully paid our wage without argue and slumped aboard. As the boat began to cross, we all decided to rest and recuperate from our travels. The last lord’s “hospitality” left much to be desired, even from wandering sellswords, so we were quick to let our guard down aboard a moving ferry on a quiet river.

Perhaps this is why it took some time before any of us realized that instead of heading straight across, our ferry captain had piloted us several miles downstream. I tried to nudge Cohen awake but he was snoring quite loudly. The ferry was approaching the other side, pulling up to a seemingly deserted landing. Before we could rally ourselves, the captain had uttered a shrill whistle and a good fifteen or sixteen armed bandits flanked the shorelines. Half of them were already drawing arrows from a position up on a hill.

“By the saints, Cohen, wake UP!!!” I bellowed, adding a swift kick. The warrior awoke with a snort and flashed his eyes around.

“Whuzzah?” he asked.

“We’re being attacked! Do something!” Wen shouted. She was trying to keep her pony under control.

“Er, get off the boat!” Cohen performed a deft leap and vaulted over the ferry’s railing onto the shore, drawing his crossbow.

“I’ll take care of these goons!” Mokaaj attempted to jump over the railing as well, but caught her feet at the last moment.

“Bruleti’R- uff!”

Just as she fell, a bright, hot line of energy escaped her fingertips and caught part of the ferry on fire.

“Oh for goodness sake... Robynn!” Wen cried.

“Yeah?” a voice came from somewhere on the ferry.

“Get the ferry captain!”

A loud splash sounded. I could just spot a form being pulled down the river.

“Um... he just jumped in the water.”

“Then help Cohen! Come on, Coin Purse,” Wen began to lead the pony off the ferry, ducking arrows as she went.

Cohen and Robynn were already lobbing stones and arrows at our attackers up the riverbank, while Mokaaj tried to marshal her magic again. I eyed the sword-wielding men flanking our right, and how they seemed so confident and assured of an easy capture. These men were opportunistic thugs, murderers. Evil men. And they were preying on anyone who’d been unfortunate enough to set foot on that ferry.

“Blessings be upon us, Holy Father...” I muttered.

Without another thought, I began charging towards the group of ambushers nearer the bank. I let my mace fall into my hand and eyed one particular bandit. He was surrounded by his allies and outnumbered me handily. He was cocky. He was sneering. He was mine.

“Dorsid! What are you doing!?” Cohen spat while reloading his crossbow.

“Raargh!” I snarled, attacking wildly with fierce swings of my mace. It seemed to take him by surprise, and he had little to shield himself against my blows. He had enough skill to meet and deflect my strikes with his haggard sword, but not to counter attack. Eventually he attempted a wild swing and fell backwards, staring up at me in terror. I brought my mace down upon him. He was killed almost instantly.

Before his comrades could properly react, I was upon them. I would surely have been swarmed if Cohen had not dropped his crossbow and charged in to guard my back. I also believe he was tired of shooting people.

“Ha! Got tired of plinking away at them! Can’t let you have all the fun! Let’s smash some thieving bas-”

“Language, Cohen!”

“-Professional mercenary bastards! HA!”
Chapter 17, To The Last Man
While Cohen and I kept the swordsmen occupied, Wen had begun to help Robynn pick off the archers trying to make pin-cushions of us all.

“There are too many! Mokaaj, how about some of that eldritch power?”

“It’s not- *sigh* Okay. Dormi!”

With a motion as if she were wrapping the very air into a ball, the magical elf threw some effort of will at the line of marksmen... and almost half of them promptly collapsed.

“Good grief! You killed them!” Robynn exclaimed. There was audible glee in her voice.

“Nay. They only sleep.”

“Not bad. What else have you got?” Wen returned fire, knocking one or two down with methodical calm.

“Let me try once more... Bruleti’Radio!”

At this, another bright beam of light erupted from her pointed finger, catching one of the bandits square in the chest. He howled briefly but was quickly consumed in a pillar of fire and crumbled to ash. It was over in seconds.

The two nearest to him fled over the hill and away as fast as their feet could carry. The rest were being picked off by Wen as Robynn unceremoniously stabbed the unconscious bodies to death. I tried to feel moral outrage, but as I stared down at the fallen around myself and Cohen, I questioned if I truly wished any less harm on those archers than the sword wielders dead before me.

After several minutes, the ferry landing was quiet once more. There were corpses lining the banks, and the spot where Mokaaj had immolated a bandit still smoked as well as the ferry itself. Coin Purse munched on some wild grass absently. I spent some time healing Cohen and the others of their wounds, thanking God for his mercy.

Robynn was making swift work of looting the various bandits of any valuables, while also offering mercy killings to those not yet fully dead. I would have been shocked and appalled if this behavior did not perfectly match the stories of Brother Simon. Instead of a recrimination I knew would fall on deaf ears, I settled for praying for the souls of the men who had attacked us, wishing them peace and God’s forgiveness.

“Ack! This one’s still lively!”

Robynn’s cry was partnered with a harsh voice growling something in a language I couldn’t understand. By the time we had circled round, Robynn had the man gagged and in shackles.

“Any papers on him?” Wen asked.

“Nah, just a bit o’ coin, like the others.”

“Well,” Cohen said, hefting his bloodied mace. ”One more for the gallows then.”


Mokaaj threw herself between the hulking warrior and the now cringing man.

“We can’t just kill him!”

“He ambushed us first, Mokaaj,” Wen said. “Besides, there’s nothing gained in keeping him alive.”

“But... I mean... Dorsid! You can’t think it’s right? He’s not armed now? We’d be killing him in cold blood. It’s murder!”

I cast an appraising look behind me at the many corpses, several of which I personally bashed unrecognizable in the heat of fighting. It would take many prayers and years of service to earn forgiveness for this...

“All these men were murdered, Mokaaj. We could have run, or they could have, but everyone stood their ground and fought. Including this man.”

“We can’t tie him up or something?”

“He’d just get loose eventually,” Robynn said. “Or worse, starve. Or be eaten by something out here.”

At this, the man started screaming and trying to gesture emphatically.

“No! See? He wants to help us.”

The elf removed the man’s gag.

“Tell us something useful and we’ll spare your life!”

At this the man started racing through a hurried explanation of the situation, pleading heartfelt repentance for trying to kill us and living a life of crime. At least, I assumed that’s what he was saying. The man was only continuing in the same foreign tongue as before, which made as much sense to us as a Scot gargling pebbles. Mokaaj’s face fell.

“Um... well... I suppose... couldn’t we...?”

All of our eyes fell upon her for an instant before finding somewhere else to look. With a pained expression, Mookaj suddenly grabbed Robynn’s dagger and plunged it into the man’s chest, as his screams were smothered by her free hand. He struggled for several more moments before crumpling inward, devoid of life.

Mokaaj handed back Robynn’s knife without looking at her.

“Not... quite the swiftest way to do that,” the small thief said.

“Shut up,” Mokaaj snapped. She faced away from the grisly scene, looking towards where the true river landing lay. “Let’s get out of here. I’m exhausted.”

We were all too stunned to comment and continued on towards the north.
- The Lady does not have a name. I have asked pointedly and been given no answer. The DM seems to be amused at my squirming. I've also tried ferreting out who she could be, but there's too many possibilities.
- This was my second major RP scene, and when I really started to get my wind under my wings. Though I did have a few false starts and stumbles, overall I was getting used to talking fanciful and representing us well (and moving the damn story along without it just being handed to us). I definitely think the others would be your typical adventurers turning their noses up at nobility if I didn't pointedly ask them to bow.
- My Friend From College actually started posing at the table when I described his character, and this became a running gag, culminating in the infamous line, "Cohen wear leather loincloth?" Imagine Chris Farley's Chippendales audition, because it almost got that bad.
- This may not interest everyone, but as a history buff I was intrigued to learn of the German Peasants' War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Peasants%27_War) and how wanton looting and pillaging was not uncommon. So a nice bit of the rumored "real world history" we would see in the game popped up in this encounter.
- The black hat bandits (which might have been a detail I made up) was my first gang mob fight, so it was a bit of nerve-wracking. Charging into melee range is usually the fighter/barbarian's job, but dammit, I was roleplaying. Luckily I discovered the benefits of being a class/build with a high AC. Even though the mechanics say low rolls are a "miss," I like to think petty bandits going against an armored opponent is just an example of cold hard physics staring them down.
- The DM couldn't believe we hadn't caught on to the increase in ferry price as a bad sign. I just figured we were dealing with an unscrupulous businessman.
- Any guesses as to Mokaaj's magical incantations? I'd said aloud while discussing the write-ups, "there's no damn way I'm looking up a Quenya to English dictionary."
- We all felt a bit odd towards the end of the encounter because Mokaaj's player did strangely demand we interrogate one survivor, then coldly murder him when he proved of no more use, because we couldn't think of anything else to do. Oh, D&D, the way you spin our moral compasses all willy nilly.

2013-11-19, 09:49 AM
Well, really, what else you going to do with Bandits? It's not like he has another vocation, and it's not like the guards wouldn't just hang him. That's assuming someone's even enforcing law in the area.

2013-11-19, 12:09 PM
Well, really, what else you going to do with Bandits? It's not like he has another vocation, and it's not like the guards wouldn't just hang him. That's assuming someone's even enforcing law in the area.

Yeah, we're not seeing a whole lot of law and order on the roads. In the towns? Different story. And of course our actions will come back to haunt us later...

2013-11-19, 05:26 PM
Yeah, we're not seeing a whole lot of law and order on the roads. In the towns? Different story. And of course our actions will come back to haunt us later...


Do go on :smallsmile:

2013-11-23, 01:36 AM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 4

Chapter 18, A Log In The Road...
It was nearing late evening when we arrived at a respectable dockside tavern ingeniously named the River’s Landing Inn. Wooden, two-story, cozy enough, if somewhat swampy and moss eaten, but to our eyes it was paradise. Robynn and Cohen immediately made way for the bar, but there was little for us to glean from the non-english speakers beyond beer and a shared room for the night.

At dawn we set out, with a full night’s rest and some hearty gruel in our stomachs. The next lord’s castle was some ways off, and Wen figured the best route was a less traveled path through an old forest. The journey was going to be the better part of a day, so we tried to pace ourselves, observing everything but admiring nothing. All of the surrounding trees were old but those dead and fallen were covered in new growth. They criss-crossed enough to provide good cover and the trail had plenty of winding bends in it.

At mid-day, a minor obstacle presented itself in the form a fallen log across the path. It was a bit of an unnatural sight, as most of the felled trees we’d seen had been cleared off the road some time ago. Cohen approached the log warily.

“A bloody trap, no doubt.”

“Cohen…” Wen said, her bow gracefully falling into her hands in a practiced gesture.

The warrior had his mace in hand and strode confidently towards the wooden barrier. He knocked it solidly once.

“Think you’re pretty smart, eh? Pretty tough? HAAAAA!!!”

At this, Cohen struck a pose of barely contained rage and aggression, as if seeing whether the log might flinch and run away in fear. It did not.

The rest of us stayed in a tight formation, searching the intertwined trees for any signs of reaction as Cohen’s roaring voice echoed away. When the forest was quiet again, Robynn turned an appraising eye towards the log.

“...It sure looks intimidated.”

Cohen snorted and turned to make a reply when several dozen bandits appeared from within the brush and behind the trees. A two-fold line of archers were currently sighting us from decent cover as two groups of sword and club wielders approached from both ends of the path. The arrows started flying before I could shout for Cohen to turn and face his opponents.
Chapter 19, ...And What It Bodes
“...Not good, not good…” Wen said, quickly notching and firing in return.

My feet were already carrying me towards the fighting nearer the log before I could even consider what I was doing. Halfway there, a man a good two heads taller than the rest stepped into my stride and began swinging his club mercilessly. He was bigger and stronger than me. I did my best to avail myself against him, but he shrugged off blows easier than I did in full plate armor. Even as Robynn scurried her way over to stab at his legs, the big man simply began shoving her away with his feet, as if handling an unruly dog.

While Robynn and I tussled with the brute, Wen and Mokaaj worked to pick off the archers. There were succeeding admirably, but Mokaaj had to switch to magic to keep the nearby melee fighters from distracting the young tracker. These men seemed somewhat more nimble and intelligent about fighting a magic-welding elf, but there were still powerless if caught in one of her spell’s effects.

Robynn had managed a few deep lacerations against the giant bandit, but he was still laughing off my attacks while nearly knocking me off my feet. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Cohen taking on a good 4 or 5 men at a time, absorbing more than ducking their blows. He was viciously attacking, but I could see most of the blood was spraying from him.

“Wen! A little help!”

The archer adjusted herself, trying to aim into our scuffle, and I soon felt a sharp pain in my right shoulder.

“Ack! Not that kind of help!”


She returned her assault on the firing range, which had dwindled somewhat. Robynn tried a another deep lunge, eliciting a cry from the huge man and directing his attention away. Taking my opening, I leapt into position and cracked the brute across the temple. His head snapped abruptly and he went to the earth silently.

I rounded to face Cohen and saw him barely standing, still warding off enemies of an unfair ratio. I ducked and weave to avoid more arrows. Just as I came within several feet of the fight, just as their seemed a moment of triumph as Cohen put one man into the ground, another had circled round and sliced him in the hip.

“Arrrgh!” the fighter cried and fell to a knee. He was kicked until he fell further.


I followed through my stride with a swing and then a duck, working to maneuver around the thieves as best I could. While I was busy trying to clear a ring of defense near my fallen comrade, Wen had driven the second archer’s line into retreat. The bandit swords attacking her had been driven off by Mokaaj and Robynn, with one even being dropped from afar by our ranger when he had been assured of his escape.

Eventually, the remnants of the ambushers had fled back into the forest. I knelt beside the collapsed and unconscious form of Cohen, trying to listen and watch for signs of life. After several minutes, his breathing seemed to grow less haggard. I lay hands upon him and said several prayers to Saint Gabriel, asking him to revive a fallen warrior. Robynn was darting around the fallen bodies as deftly as a field mouse.

“We should retreat back to the inn. We’re too exposed here,” Wen said.

“What about the nearby lord?” Mokaaj asked.

“There’s no telling what’s between here or there, or if we’d receive a welcome better or worse than the last one.”

I had to agree. I called over Mokaaj and together we created a leaf bedding with poles to drag Cohen back to the inn.

“I found this on one of the corpses,” Robynn said, holding up a piece of handwriting on torn parchment.

“Later,” Wen said, then motioned for us to walk while she and Robynn covered us with their eyes and weapons.

It was a tense trip back, slowed by the burden of Cohen, but hastened by our anxiety. Upon arriving back, we discreetly transported our wounded back to our last room, while Wen paid for another night and Mokaaj and Robynn made another attempt to divine some local gossip without much luck. We reconvened a few hours after nightfall.

“Nothing new we can gather,” Wen said in hushed tones. “And none of the survivors camped here that we can tell.”

“Only thing we got is this ratty paper I clawed off one, and it’s in bloody German.”

The entire time I was praying in the corner, preparing myself for the next day. I paused momentarily and reached back to a different recitation, one my teachers had been intoning while reading ancient, foreign texts.

“Let me see that parchment,” I said, reaching without opening my eyes.

As I brought the paper before my face, old prayer words drifting over my lips, I opened my eyes and began to see the German scrawl wiggle and squirm, becoming something halfway legible. It read:

They will be travelling to Württemberg. Make sure they do not get there.

Session 5
Chapter 20, Friends Lost And Found
It took a full day of healing before Cohen was back to full strength. In the meantime, Wen had set out to try and track more of the bandits. By the second day’s sunrise, she had still not returned.

“Should we be worried?” I asked while rearranging my meager belongings for the third time.

“Eh, from what I know of Wen, she can handle herself alone,” Cohen said. “Most trackers are well practiced in stalking dangerous prey.”

“Bit of a difference between animal prey and armed bandits…” I muttered.

“Not to Wen,” Robynn said with a smirk.

“We still have a job to do,” Mokaaj intoned.

“Aye, and down a company member,” I added.

“That just means more pay for us if she doesn’t return soon,” Cohen said.

I tried to raise further issue, but Cohen largely ignored me and winced through pulling on his armor, aided by Mokaaj and Robynn. I sighed and walked outside to continue with my prayers for the day. It was some time later when the others joined me, just as I was finishing. We were beginning to sort our way towards our next target of Wurttemberg, Wen having taken her map, when Robynn gave a sharp tug at my cloak, pointing down the nearest path away from the inn.

Upon the road was a somewhat bedraggled-looking young woman, wispy in some features, hardy in others, barefoot and with very messy hair, carrying what appeared to be a curved sword in a plain scabbard. She was dressed in a scrappy, loose smock, smeared heavily with dirt. At her hip was a hemp bag not unlike Mokaaj’s. She had a somewhat vacant look as she gazed about the nearby forest, meandering closer and closer to the inn before throwing an appraising look towards us and flashing a toothy grin.

“Hullo. You’d be Wen’s comrades, then? Honey Badger whatsis? Name’s Rhivi.” Her words were broken up by a somewhat loud smacking as she was chewing some bit of greenery nonchalantly.

“Erm, yes. We are Honey Badger Acquisitions. But how do you know us?” I asked.

“And Wen?” Cohen added, resting a hand at his weapon.

“Wen and I are old friends. We go way back,” the woman idly scratched her hair and began looking around the forest absent-mindedly. "Bumped into her late last night, walking back from a ritual; said she had some wild beasts needed tracking and asked me to help out her group while she was…”

At this she rustled through her bag and pulled out a ratty bit of paper.

“...on sabbatical. ‘And don’t think I won’t settle up with you later, Cohen,’ " she read carefully.

Cohen twitched somewhat, especially as Rhivi threw him a grin and wink.

“May I see that please?” I reached out for the paper.

“Course, course. I’ll just wash up a bit?”

At this, Rhivi proceeded over to a horse trough where she happily blew several odd noises at the posted animals, who seemed to respond in kind. Then she grabbed handfuls of the standing water and began rubbing her face, limbs and portions of her body I was glad had some amount of cloth covering them, flimsy as though it may be.

I shifted my focus to the short letter Wen had written us. It apologized for her sudden departure, but assured us of her return ‘when the job is done.’ In the mean time, she vouched for the tracking, pathfinding and German-speaking abilities of her comrade Rhivi, a druid with local roots, and a fair bit of wandering experience and combat ferocity not to be sneezed at. In addition to her powers of-

“...You use wild magic?” I hissed as she returned from her brief bath.

“Free Magic. The magic of the natural world. The power of the rivers, mountains, trees, and animals.”

“It’s outlawed!”

“Only in the cities… which I don’t happen to frequent much.” She continued to chew on her herbs.

“You can’t do that!” I blustered.

“Of course I can. Did some birdspeak and firecrafting just earlier today.” Rhivi turned to Robynn. “He’s a funny one, isn’t he, lass? Not right in his head?”

Robynn struggled to suppress a laugh, caught my frustrated scowl, then snorted loudly and dissolved into a series of high-pitched giggles.

“Whatever,” I said finally. “Let’s just be on our way. She’ll be a good scout on these forest roads.”
Chapter 21, What Lurks In The Dark Woods
Whether by our actions earlier near the fallen log, or Wen’s unseen further attacks, we passed through the small village of Heidenheim and on to Württemberg without incident. The area was much more open and agrarian than the others, with numerous segmented farms and vineyards for miles around, all leading up to a squat stone castle on a hill. At the castle gates, Rhivi waved off proceeding inside, preferring to remain in the surrounding country.

Just as I was about to lead the others inside, she grabbed my arm.

“You know, there’s not much difference to my magic and yours,” she said with a slight grin.

I stiffened. “There is a great deal of difference. My spellcraft is derived from a power not my own. It is a gift from the Almighty.”

“Mine is a gift from Nature. Did not your God make all that is in the world? They are the same power.”

I tried not to steam too visibly, but gave a stiff nod of respect and walked away. I could hear her snickering as she left, until the castle doors slammed shut. The visit to the castle was short as, yet again, the meeting with the local lord, noble courtiers and advisers was largely a one-way conversation. We made our pleasantries, delivered the message, stood as some subdued reaction was given, then were quickly ushered away.

Our company regrouped at a local vineyard’s tasting bar. Rhivi seemed to have already made fast friends with the locals, conversing rapidly in their tongue, and so our host was more than happy to treat us to some mulled wine.

“Frankfurt is too far by foot,” Mokaaj said. “We should try and find a caravan.”

“And spend more money?!” Robynn slammed down her comparatively large clay mug. “I’d rather walk, and I’ve got the shortest legs of all of you!”

“Mokaaj is right,” Cohen said, quaffing from a bottle. “Besides, travelling alone does not seem to be of advantage to us. Much as I enjoy a good fight, I prefer it to be when I am not fatigued from walking like a common shepherd.”

“A caravan?” Rhivi said, wandering up from a group of revelers. “Those are prime targets for bandits these days.”

The entire group turned to stare at her stone-faced.

“You don’t say?” Cohen replied before chugging down the last of his wine. He let out a hearty belch. “Go find us a good transport, priest. You’re best with people and least drunk.”

Several minutes later I found myself before the portly leader of Singrünblau Caravans, he scrubbing his beard while trying to follow my broken attempts at German and finally cutting in with English.

“A few extra guards would be nice,” he said, eyeing my armor and weaponry. “In exchange for passage aboard the wagons?”

This was certainly a far better situation than I expected. My education had taught to me to accept good fortune as it came and not grow longing for more than might be owed in life. But the rations were growing stale on the road…

“Plus meals,” I said firmly, gripping my crucifix for a bit of added leverage.


Within the hour, we were off towards Frankfurt on the wagon road, each of us riding beside a driver as official guards of commerce wagons. I hated to admit it, being trained to walk among the people and share their burden, but after so many weeks of trekking overland by foot the simple pleasure of not having to feel the weight of my armor as I trudged through earth and water for miles on end was simply glorious. I felt magnanimous in my bouncing seat, a few feet up off the road.

At night the caravan made for a simple clearing to circle their wagons and rest beside a large bonfire. Each of us agreed to sleep under a wagon in case of rain, with the additional guards taking first watch. I had only taken a few hours of sleep when something woke me from my slumber. I was lucky to not knock my head soundly against the undercarriage, but crawling out from underneath was still a chore. As i re-donned my armor I noticed Cohen had also risen and was scanning the perimeter.

“You sensed it too?” I said, walking up behind him carefully.

“Aye. Middle of the night, an obvious encampment. Best time for an attack. There’s someone out there.”

“More bandits?”

“Mmm. I don’t think so. They would’ve rushed us in the dark.”

“Then who-” I broke off as a sickening, greasy feeling of utter wrongness passed over me. Something evil was out in the surrounding woods.

From the edge of the firelight, a sudden crack of dry brush caused both of us to stiffen. We readied our weapons and I hissed the others alert. Rhivi and Robynn took up positions behind us as Mokaaj stood on top of one of the wagons to better see into the dim gloom.

“Who’s out there? Show yourselves now!” Cohen shouted.

Slowly, the rustling grew closer. At first I feared a large animal, but the sound was widespread, but still rather mute. A cascading shuffling, not a heavy stomping. Eventually, a line of figures came into focus. Their forms were badly mangled, and some of them looked crippled, walking on broken legs, cradling broken arms. The faces were non-descript, largely because most of their features were so flattened, crushed or sunken as to be unrecognizable. What eyes that weren’t swollen shut had a horrible dark emptiness to them. And their flesh… their flesh was pallid and rotting.

They were corpses. Walking corpses.
Chapter 22, When Hell Is Full
Cohen and I were both steadying ourselves, trying to choose a target. None of the creatures were rushing, just continuing in a determined, steady march. The unease we all felt became like a crackling energy only pierced by a shout from Mokaaj.

“The bandits!”

“They probably got run off by these things, Mok!” Robynn shouted back.

“No! They ARE the bandits! Look at that one there, with his hands still bound!”

I noted the one monster in particular she was talking about, sagging forward under the weight of his near useless arms that were still clasped together by manacles. His chest wound from Mokaaj was oozing a horrid ichor.

“It’s… the river bandits,” I gasped “The same ones! Something has caused them to rise from the dead!”

Cohen’s eyes settled on a larger bandit whose fingertips had worn away to bony claws. He hefted his mace with both hands and fell into a steeper stance.

“Then I suppose we’ll have the chance to kill them twice… HA!”

And with that, he was off into the line of undead bandits. All at once, the crowd of abominations began to shriek and moan, and converge on his position as he tore into them, trying to batter them into the ground. But without the breath of life, they were easily ignoring any pain or injuries and continued unrelenting in attempts to savage the brave warrior into meat.

Mokaaj began casting searing beams of light and heat into the fray, charring some more of the already mangled bodies. I made a move to join Cohen in the fray when Rhivi’s voice cried out for me to stand my ground.

“Protect the wagons! I’ll handle these disgusting fiends!”

Before I could argue, a large ball of fire appeared near Cohen’s position, setting several of the attackers on fire. And still they kept marching. Even burning apart, they kept heading forward. Nothing we could throw at these beasts could turn them away.

“God help us… how can we...” and then I recalled my training at the abbey. The divine training in combating the forces of evil. I held up my wooden cross and metal weapon and called forth in a booming voice not entirely my own.


The sound of my words echoed strangely back from the forest, almost as if a choir of voices was added with each utterance. Almost half of the creatures went still, then began to turn and move away, as if on command. For a few moments they left their brethren engaged with Cohen and I felt we could easily mop up the others and run the caravans to safety. Robynn met my gaze from across the camp and gave me a thumbs up. That was the last thing I saw before another wave of sickness hit me and Robynn, Mokaaj and an entire caravan disappeared from sight, as if the night itself had swallowed them despite the fire.

Rhivi’s sphere winked out and the scene grew even darker. Some of the other guards had struck torches, casting a myriad of shadows about. Two of them walked towards the darkened center of camp and promptly vanished into blackness, torches and all. Robynn swore loudly, then shuffled about before there was a loud knock upon wood and another sharp epithet.

“Robynn? Are you alright?” Mokaaj called out from atop the caravan.

“No!... Yes!.... I just… bumped me damn head on the damn wagon carriage!”

“Hold on! I’ll come down to you! Maybe I can dispel this magical effe-...”

“Mokaaj!” I called out. “What’s wrong?”

“There… there are more! Approaching the wagons! I can’t see them but I can hear them! Robynn, get into the wagon!”

There were more sounds of scrambling as Rhivi and I exchanged panicked looks. Her hands wrung around her scimitar firmly as I re-doubled my grip on my mace. We both knew what it would come down to, and no flashy spectacle might save us. A slight nod was given and we both charged to aid Cohen and drive the creatures back into their graves.

I was too caught up in the melee that followed to know this at the time, but while we three were fighting back this arcane horde, Mokaaj and Robynn were clambering over and through the wagon to evade their unseen pursuers. They described the sound of screams from the lost guards, soft flesh being torn and eaten, and even the wagon itself being torn into and crushed by bare hands. Eventually they reunited outside of the dark sphere and regained their bearings.

Robynn began flinging pellets at several strays while Mokaaj snug around, wide outside our campsite to try and confront whoever or whatever was powering the undead. Alas, even her Elvish senses unimpeded could make out anything in the midnight wilderness, so she quickly rejoined the fight.

By now, we had hacked and battered the corpses down into constituent parts, and were mopping up what was left. Just as Mokaaj rejoined us and said she could find no dark sorcerer, the sphere of darkness disappeared, revealing two more undead, a guard’s corpse, and his terrified companion crawling under what remained of the pulled apart caravan. We made short work of the creatures and regrouped.

“The remains… *cough* we must… *huff* sever the heads and burn them… NOW,” I said, gasping for breath.

“Aye,” Rhivi agreed. “Put them back into Mother Earth, that she might cleanse them of their corruption.”

Cohen and I shared a look. He punched me lightly in the shoulder. “Come then, priest, we’ve work to do.”

“I can’t,” I said, shaking my head slowly.


“I cannot desecrate a corpse, fresh or long-forgotten.”

Cohen stared at me for a few moments with a scowl before throwing up his hands and stamping away. I kneeled to pray, but sanctuary was not to be had as the caravan leader came out from where ever he had hidden to begin remonstrating me.

“What on Earth is going on?!” he bellowed.

“Calm yourself, sir. I believe the darkness has passed...”

“Calm? My caravan has just been attacked by… by… I don’t even know what!”

“I assure you, there is nothing left to fear. We are ever your watchful guards on this journey.”

“Guards? For all I know you brought this upon us!”

“We… are the reason you survived this at all,” I made a move to see to the wounded in the camp before I punched the man in the face.

“Your company will be the death of us all!” he shrieked.

I rounded on the man instantly. “I am the Agent of God on Earth, protector against the forces of evil, and I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR YOUR SASS!”

The caravan leader blanched and shrunk away, back to cower under his bedrolls no doubt. It was eventually decided we would quickly retreat back to Roscotton, the closest small city on the route. The caravaners were mostly quiet as we scraped and marched our way back through the woods under nightfall, ever with an eye to our surroundings. All were exhausted from the attack and lack of sleep as we finally reached the gates and moved the wagons and passengers back to the safety of civilization.

The caravan leader, now flanked by the two burliest of his crew he could muster, stated he would be issuing a report to the local magistrate about the entire matter, and we would be wise not to leave the town before being called to his chambers. Cohen briefly said the caravan leader would be wise to sleep with his locks thrown tight and a sword clutched in his feeble hands, and then we all shuffled our way to a local inn to sleep away what horrific memories we could.
- I blame myself for Cohen's player trying to intimidate the log, as I told the Story of the Dread Gazebo (http://web.archive.org/web/20080804140516/http://www.dreadgazebo.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=8) not long before this session (I also started the habit of trying Intimidate checks, since I'm building a Dragon Shaman optimized for that in our other game). And yes, Cohen did succeed his Intimidate check.
- The fallen log fight featured, to my limited memory, our first Natural 20 (when I brained the Large opponent dead) and Natural 1 (when Wen missed an archer and shot me in the back). And we needed that 20 because the DM kept muttering on each damage roll how Dorsid and Robynn were going to be at this "all day."
- This was also the first time one of us actually fell, but the fight ended so abruptly, Cohen was back up quite quickly.
- I misremembered the end of the fight (or was taking a bathroom break) because apparently Wen actually ran down two fleeing swordsman. Bit of good foreshadowing for her exit...
- And thus we introduce Rhivi, the Human Druid into the party (also played by the DM's wife). Why did Wen leave and Rhivi show up? Because their player lost her character sheet. So she rolled up a druid. But don't worry, Wen comes back (multi-playing came up in the other campaign, as the DM here is playing both a fighter and rogue there; more of us might even get in on it in the future; we'll see).
- I realize druids aren't necessarily hippy dippy cloud cuckoolanders, but it makes for a fun character. And besides her useful abilities as a druid, the DM allowed her to be a local who could be our German translator (Mokaaj and I not having access to Tongues until a few levels later). The DM did not allow for gross Bonus Languages based on race and INT bonuses, but I at least talked him into allowing me to have Latin as a starting Bonus Language. We'll see if it can be used mechanically in place of Celestial or not.
- If you want a rough map of the cities we're visiting, hold up your hand, palm out and spread your fingers wide as you can. Your thumb and pointer are on the West side of the river, the others East. The cities are West to East in the order the Lady first named them. Stuttgart is south, and centered near your wrist.
- Yep, zombies. That's what I meant when I said "come back to haunt us." *baddum tss* The first time I got to Turn Undead. It really bought us some time, so I (rather dickishly) asked everyone to thank the Cleric at the allotment of after-battle XP. This was our first run-in with undead in the campaign world, so it was a bit of a shock, especially with the DM saying, "these are the EXACT same guys from the river that you left dead on the bank." We felt like true murder-hobos at that point.
- Most of the RP encounters the DM just chats with us in character, but he actually asked for a Diplomacy check on the caravan leader one, to basically calm him down. But even though I succeeded the roll, the character remained rather snippy. So I got a bit Fire and Brimstone with him (plus some Jewish Guilt). It elicited some "ooooooohs." They half expected me to bob my head back and forth and snap my fingers.
- It was some fight session between this one or previously where the DM pointedly said to me, "you're the best out of all of them at roleplaying... And the worst at magic." It's true, I'd been very cautious about combat casting, and I often only figured out the best spell for a situation after an encounter. Or exactly the spell I needed was unlocked after we leveled from post-encounter XP.
Just finished the last chapter of these sessions up today. I'm working into session 6, and there are two more after that. Stay tuned to this thread, readers :smallsmile:

2013-11-27, 12:01 AM
How's everybody liking the story so far? Come on, gimme a little feedback for encouragement to write on Thanksgiving :smallsmile:

Bom Ferro
2013-11-27, 06:56 AM
I must say, this is certainly one of the higher-quality campaign journals I've read so far.

Keep up the good work, I'll be watching for updates.

And you seem to be missing a chapter 16.

2013-11-27, 09:28 AM
I'm just thinking as I read this - - Maaaan, you pissed off a Necromancer already? I don't usually end up doing that until mid to late game

2013-11-27, 09:38 AM
Very well written and a great read, keep going!

2013-11-27, 01:02 PM
...And you seem to be missing a chapter 16.

Well, shucks :smallannoyed: Shoulda noticed that sooner. Thanks.

And thanks everyone for the kind remarks. Still hammering away at session 6, which gives some nice information on the necromancy occurrence.

2013-12-01, 07:53 PM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 6

Chapter 23, A Reputation Precedes
It was in fact three days before a summons came from the Magistrate of Roscotton. Most of the time we stayed about the inn, silently eating our meals, cleaning our weapons and armor and generally not talking about any of what had happened. Rhivi was displeased to be staying within the confines of a town, but made do with a barn full of animals. I healed and prayed over everyone, and offered many silent prayers of thanks when I realized how close again we came to our deaths. If this was what peaceful courier work was like, I shuddered to think of what frontline soldiers had to deal with.

At the third morning, two cloaked, sword-bearing guards came to escort us to the Magistrate. There was little in the way of animosity, merely a vague sense of cold authority. They walked in front, not behind or beside us, so our little group had more the appearance of important dignitaries rather than Persons of Interest.

The Magistrate’s building was much more rural and rustic than the nobles we had seen thus far. It had the greater appearance of being a large trading post, with attached shop counters and shelves of dry goods. I had a feeling that many local matters were decided in the adjoining beer hall, before being authorized by seal and signature in his office.

The man himself was a spartan figure, dressed without any flair or fashion, and with close cropped greying hair. He met us inside of his spacious study, stuffed animal heads mounted on the walls, various bound records and scrolls lining the surrounding desks. His hands were steepled and he cast a neutral gaze of appraisal towards us.

“So… you are Honey Badger Acquisitions. Recently contracted as bodyguards to the Singrünblau Caravans. The leader had filed a report of an… incident… after returning with a severely frightened convoy of passengers and crew, excluding one less person than the manifest he left with our city when last he came through.”

He opened his hands and presented them palm up towards us.

“Would you care to illuminate his dark tales?”

One by one, the heads of each company member turned to me, with Rhivi even giving me a thumbs up and smile. I sighed heavily.

“Let me start from the beginning, my lord…”

I told the man of our history and formation, the mission the Lady of Stuttgart had charged us with, and detailed the various series of “random” bandit attacks. His face was impassive for most of this monologue, until the parts regarding the undead. At this, he visibly squirmed and rubbed at his forehead. When I had finished, I interlocked my fingers in front of my chest in a fairly common gesture of the clergy.

“I see,” was all the Magistrate could say.

“While I have a great deal of scholarly knowledge, I have not directly experienced such encounters before. Is there any history of such a thing happening in this area before?” I asked.

“It is not a common occurrence, no, but I have been Magistrate in this town for some years, and can say it is documented in our lore at some time in the past. You might try the local church and orphanage, headed by Father Erik Sveinhert. He has been active in this region of the country for much longer, and may know more of this.”

The Magistrate stood and made a motion towards the door, signalling the end of the meeting.

“I find no undo fault with your involvement in this incident. You are free to go on your way. I shall even send word ahead to Munich.”

Cohen elicited a slight cough.

“Do you think you might have a word with the caravan leader as well so that we might rejoin them?”

“The caravan has already left some two days ago,” the Magistrate said, already seated again and beginning to shuffle through the papers before him. “I’m afraid you’ll have to find your own way. Though your mettle seems more than proven, priest.”

With that we took our leave. The company stood assembled outside for a few moments, quietly weighing all that had happened over the past several days.

“I need parchment,” Mokaaj said suddenly, breaking the silence. “For my spells.”

“Do that then and we’ll all head to the local church,” I said without much motivation.

“Aye, and then let’s be rid of this place,“ Cohen added. “I don’t care what they say. These people seem to attract danger more than us.”

Some time after mid-day, Mokaaj joined us on the main street, packing several fresh rolls into her satchel as we wound our way through the town.

Eventually, we came to a chapel with several chambers off the main hall. The entire structure was encircled by a low stone wall and iron gate. Strangely, a guard was on duty at the door. He looked down at us dispassionately as our group mounted the stairs to the front door.

“Hello,” I grinned broadly, trying to muster some warmth. “We were told by the Magistrate to visit Father Sveinhert on some business regarding paranormal activity.”

The guard said nothing.

“...Might we see him?”

“Is the Master expecting you?”

I turned briefly to the company who mirrored my own puzzled look.

“Erm, no. But as a travelling brother of the church, it would not be unusual for me to drop by all houses of God on my journey.”

The guard sniffed, then turned to head inside. ”Just a moment.”

It was indeed, a matter of minutes before the doors re-opened without the guard before them. Apparently this was our “welcoming gesture.” As we passed by him, I asked the guard why it was necessary to have armed men manning the church entrance.

“There are several of us serving the Master. This is an orphanage after all, and we must protect the children, sir.”

And with that he exited and resumed his post.

The company stood around for a few moments, taking in the large central hall of worship, but it appeared no one was coming to greet us. Robynn immediately began poking and prodding at various seams and fixtures around the room, before I finally stopped her as she attempted to prod under the pulpit.

“In here,” I said, gesturing to a door located at the back of the chamber.

Within we found Father Sveinhert, seated at his desk, poring over several books and scrolls. He was a balding, white-bearded man of a somewhat advanced age, but not at all wispy or frail.

“*ahem* Good afternoon, Father. I am Brother Dorsid of the Order of Saint Gabriel, and these are my comrades of the adventuring company-”

As soon as my name hit his ears, the priest’s head jerked up and his eyes sharpened to daggers. “You!” he hissed, and then swiftly flung back his chair and slammed open a nearby door. “Guards! Guards! Kill these intruders!”
Chapter 24, On Hallowed Ground
It was instant chaos, Robynn and Rhivi had accompanied me into the small room, so they were best positioned to repel the guards that charged in from the opposing hall, while I stood my ground against two more from the doorway Sveinhert had just fled through. Cohen and Mokaaj were caught slightly unawares out in the main hall, but managed to bottleneck the remaining guards in their own doorway.

The fighting was brief, but frenzied. The indoors kept us tightly formed, and even in the main hall, the various pews and other tables made for difficult maneuvering. Except for Robynn, who seemed at her best running under and around things.

While the scuffles raged around the church, I noticed how fiercely the guards opposed our entrance to the Eastern wing, where there was an undue amount of childish screams, met continuously by a rage-filled bellowing that had to be Sveinhert trying to silence them.

“We have to make for the children!” I screamed through the halls to Cohen.

“Not as if I haven’t been trying!” he hollered back, still trying to cut his way past the guards into the next room.

For the second time since the woods, I felt a horrible, prickly sensation shock my body, and my head grew foggy and dim. Then I regained my focus, catching through the cramped doorway a glimpse of Sveinhert, clutching a weapon and radiating a sickly aura.

“Dark magic…” I muttered. “In a church… you dare defile this house of God!?”

I screamed and rushed through the door, practically running over a guard to have a chance at striking the vile magician.

“You will not live to touch the Mast-URK!” and down went the guard who had not protected his flank from Robynn’s dagger.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see groups of small figures, huddled together, some trembling and weeping, others out cold from terror. The rage began to rise in me again. I took a mighty swing with my mace, attempting to sever the priest’s head from his torso. A few inches from his body, a strange, dark red energy crackled about him, rebounding my weapon.

“Hahaha! Oh, child, is your faith in the White God failing you?”

I tried again, and again, to no avail. He was seemingly impervious to my attacks. Though unfortunately the reverse was not true. I felt the lash of his own wicked mace several times, and it stung like fire.

“Cohen! Mokaaj!”

My comrades were quick to join Robynn and myself in our attempts to fell the dark cleric, but it was not to be. His power over the dark arts gave him protection that our mortal weapons could not pierce. This amused Sveinhert to no end.

“Haha! Ohh, but your little pokes tickle me so!”

The priest’s disgusting smirk quickly turned to a shocked grimace as Rhivi’s scimitar slid itself into the man’s torso from nowhere.

“How about that, friar funnybones? That feel good too?” she quipped.

“Y-you cannot…”

“Like I told the holy man, I CAN.”

I muttered a prayer of strength to gird Rhivi’s strike, and with a wide overhead swing, she buried her blade deep into his shoulder, down into his heart.

“The Ring… will… avenge us…” he whispered.

The light went out of his eyes and the red energy ceased. As he collapsed to the ground, Rhivi effortlessly withdrew her blade and began wiping it on a guard’s clothing.

“Thanks for the help, Dorsid,” she said with a wry smirk.

“Thanks be to God,” I said flatly.

She snorted lightly but said nothing else. Cohen walked up to me and cast an appraising glance around, taking in the multiple fallen.

“Same as the forest, you think? Keep them from troubling us twice?”

“I’m not sure,” I said. ”Without Sveinhert, it may not be possible. But…”

“Better safe than sorry,” he said, eyeing Rhivi’s gleaming blade.

“We should deal with the children first,” I said, looking at the poor ones still alert enough to be frightened to death of us.

“I’ll handle them,” Mokaaj said.

“Perhaps I should. Another member of the church might be more soothing than a wild-” I stopped myself from saying ‘elf’. “Erm, than a stranger.”

“Hey! Get a load of this!” Robynn shrieked from within the office of the late Father Sveinhert.

“There’s a secret chamber under his desk!”
Chapter 25, Buried Darkness Revealed
Rhivi and I stepped over the fallen guards in the doorway to meet Robynn in the fallen priest’s office.

“So we’ll just clean up ourselves then, shall we?” Cohen called out as we left.

The young thief was crouched down behind the desk, which was shoved partially from where it had been. There was a trap door, just large enough for one person, and a ladder leading down into the earth.

“Pretty neat, huh?”

“Yes,” Rhivi said. “Hard to tell with so little light if the cavern is naturally occurring or was dug out.”

“Well, I could-” I started.

“Wonder how far down it goes?”

“Why don’t you hop in and find out?” Rhivi teased.

“I could-” I repeated

“No way! There could be rats bigger than me down there!”

“Well at least they’d have a decent meal of you. Probably starving, the poor dears.”

“ROBYNN!” I shouted finally, making the little girl jump.


“Is there something innocuous on the desk I could use?”

“Innn knoock yoooou ussss…” she said to herself while squinting.

“A paperweight or inkwell, it doesn’t matter,” I huffed.

“Yeah, sure,” she said, grabbing an ink blotter and handing it to me.

“ILLUMINARE,” I said in a hushed tone. The blotter began to shine from the inside out with a brilliant light. I dropped it down into the open shaft where it fell for a good 20 feet before clattering to the ground.

“...Ohhhhhhh. Nice trick,” she said, throwing me a smile.

“Yes, thank you. I enjoy using the Almighty’s gifts for such mundane purposes,” I said while bodily grabbing Robynn and lowering her into the hole.

“Hey! What’s the idea?” she snapped, clutching to the ladder as soon as her feet could find it.

“You’re our trap expert; so search for traps.”

“That’s low, Dorsid!”

“Indeed. Well beneath the earth. Now get down there. We might find people locked in prison cells or something.”

Robynn grumbled but began her descent nonetheless. When she’d gone down several rungs, I turned around to Rhivi while crouching beside the portal.

“I’ll accompany her. You stay up here and help the others clean up. We still need to head out by midday.”

Rhivi snapped off an overdramatic salute and walked away, whistling an unknown tune. I shook my head at such a cavalier attitude given the circumstances, but let it slide. No doubt the druid was a consumer of various… natural medicines.

As I joined Robynn at the at the base of the ladder, I took up the ink blotter and carried it around to survey more of the underground chamber. It was a fairly large one, likely encompassing the entire church grounds, with a web of wooden beams to hold back the dirt and heavy foundation. Ominous creaks and droppings of dirt repeated themselves now and again. Robynn took a few tentative steps beyond the area nearest the ladder.

“Seems fairly solid and packed… no sign of planted traps or hidden pits.”

I stared at the ceiling in wonderment of a construction in between the larger beams, seemingly an overly large and complex lever system attached to a series of platforms touching the ceiling.

“What is that, d’you suppose?” I said, gesturing.

“No idea,” Robynn said, not looking. “But I’m far more interested in what that is.”

She gestured to a large chest on the far side of the cavern, beside a rudimentary desk with a few writing implements scattered about. Robynn approached cautiously, sliding her way along, often billowing her cloak out a bit first, perhaps to see if something might leap out to pierce it. Finally reaching the chest, Robynn crouched down, unfolding a small kit of rudimentary tools. The rolled up leather sleeve contained various elongated bits of metal, each curved and bent in its own way, as well as a few sharp blades and blunt hammers.

“Let’s see…” she said, cracking her knuckles. “Padre, bring that light over here.”

As I stood to Robynn’s side, I had a chance to watch our thief at work. With delicate motions, she deftly poked and prodded the intricate lock of the chest, coaxing it open one tumbler and latch at a time. Even as the main lock released, Robynn did not swiftly open the lid, but continued to examine the chest’s outer lining. Finally, she gently raised the lid by a mere fraction, and brought my arm around to cast even more light inside.

“Okay...” she said while reaching back to her toolkit again.

Now she produced what resembled some sort of ratcheted protractor, which she placed into the small gap of the lid and base of the chest. With the turn of a key, the lid raised slowly, inch by inch, with Robynn intently watching, stopping every few turns to feel around and poke more rods into the inside. Eventually, she had enough space to stick her small hand inside and palm around the entire structure. With a satisfied nod, she affixed a type of grapple to the lid and frame edge, pushing up the lid slightly beyond forty-five degrees but holding it in place.

“Alright. Let me feel the bottom and get this stuff out of here.”

For a few minutes I watched as she wedged various implements in seams and corners, seemingly at random, while pulling out heavy, clinking sacks and several books of indeterminate value. She finished by thoroughly searching the whole of the box inside, checking the back of the chest, then the desk, then the nearby posts and rafters along the cavern wall.

“Well?” I said after all this time of silently watching.

“Eight sacks of gold and two ledgers. Probably record keeping. Not a bad haul,” Robynn said, rubbing her stiff hands together.

“And what about the artifice about the ceiling?” I asked.

“Oh that? Yeah that’s a self-destruct mechanism. Lever plate in the chest would activate those platforms and likely cave in the whole church on our heads,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Neat, huh?” she grinned.
Chapter 26, Act And Consequence
With no small amount of haste I wrestled a protesting Robynn and the money sacks back up the ladder as quickly as humanly possible.

“Hey! There was also a tunnel down there! We should check it!”

“Not now, Robynn.”

I threw the last of the sacks down and hauled myself up before gingerly shutting the trap door at my feet. Then I pulled the ledgers from where I’d tucked them beneath my armor and laid them on the nearby desk. There were both rather plain on the surface, save for a red ring embossed on the cover of one of them.

One was clearly an accounting ledger of some kind, but the spare German I had learned in our adventures told me these were not for regular items, nor even euphemisms as placeholders. Most of the columns were sums, but matched to proper names. And two words repeated throughout: “Kinder” and “Elfen.”

Children and Elves.

I shut the book in disgust and appraised the cover of the other one, which Robynn had taken the liberty of opening and leafing through, with her tongue firmly tucked into the side of her mouth.

“What do you make of that?”

“Not much, honestly. Mind you I’m not much of a reader, but I can tell you this isn’t just German, and not even a regular language.”

She held up an open page. The book was scrupulously organized, but not in regular paragraphs. They were more like the stanzas of the scripture and poetry I studied at the abbey.

“It’s a cipher book. Sections repeat, so this is likely one half of a back-and-forth conversation.”

“Can you decipher it?”

Robynn flopped the book back down onto the table.

“Maybe with some time and a lot of help from you and Rhivi…”

“Let’s just pack it for now.”

Robynn and I entered the adjoining hall again, where Mokaaj was looking slightly blanched and Cohen flushed and perspiring. There were several large bags lying about, plus the remains of Sveinhert still exposed.

“We’ve rended the bodies as cleanly as we could, then put them into some sacks formed from the bedsheets. Mokaaj applied a peaceful sleep spell to the children.”

He leaned against a wall to rest and I noticed a fresh bandage on his hand.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“Oh… just a minor thing,” he shrugged. Mokaaj nudged him sharply.

“The priest’s weapon…” he continued. “It’s cursed.”

“What?” I said.

“Tainted with evil magic,” Mokaaj clarified.

“Burned me damn hand quite well,” Cohen mused, rubbing at his bandage.

I threw an appraising look at the thorny, blackened mace that lay near Sveinhert’s corpse.

“...You picked it up, didn’t you?”

“I told him not to!” Mokaaj squeaked.

“Mokaaj…” Cohen sighed.

“And what happened?”

“It hurt a bit. Figured whatever foul craft the priest was using left a bit of stink on it. Figured it would wear off after a while.”


“It started to hurt a lot more…”

“He just wouldn’t let it go!” Mokaaj said.

Cohen rolled his eyes. “When it felt like it was going to melt through to the bone I dropped it.”

“Rather sensible, I’d say.” I cocked an eyebrow at Cohen who scowled.

“He also had this underneath his robes,” Mokaaj said, using her quarterstaff to snatch a length of gold chain attached to a medallion of the same. As she held it up before me, I noted the intricate pattern of rubies inlaid. They made the rough appearance of a spider.

“Hmm… it feels as if I’ve seen this before. Pre-history worshippers of a being called Loth, I believe. I’d have to get back into a library to find out more.”

“Lovely,” Cohen said, adjusting his armor tiredly. “A bunch of crazy spider lovers have been attacking us.”

“That may not be all of it. Sveinhert mentioned how ‘The Ring will avenge us.’ “

I gestured to Robynn who handed me the embossed book.

“This is an account of the orphans passing through here. And it involves money.”

Cohen noticeably stiffened.

“The church had rumors of a slaver’s organization called The Ring, but little to no hard facts. Mostly they were thought to be a bad fable built out of fearmongering from nobles looking to justify their personal armies. But it seems they’ve been involved in child trafficking. Especially elvish children.”

Mokaaj threw a hand over her mouth. Cohen cast a look to one of the closest shrouded bodies and gave it a light kick. “Some of these bastards had a ring tattoo on their flesh.”

“How horrible,” Mokaaj said.

“Figures, though. No easier place to hide this than a bunch of cloistered old men who love their little-”

Cohen caught my look and let the comment fall away. He turned to Robynn.

“You find anything down there? Like valuables?”

“Sacks of money!”

“Good, I’d hate to leave this godforsaken-” he looked at me, “Truly godforsaken place without something to show for it.”

“I suppose we can let the authorities clean up the rest,” I said.

“That’s good,” Rhivi said, appearing in a doorway at the other end of the hall. “Because the Magistrate’s already outside… along with half the town.”
Chapter 27, The Judgment Of Others
It was only as we approached the front doors that I began to notice the growing murmur of voices. Beside the entrance lay a guard, still alive but bound and gagged. He looked beaten and penitent.

“Where was he?” I asked Rhivi.

“Hiding beneath a bench. But we had a good talk, he and I. Ja, Peter?” At this she poked a finger into the man’s shoulder, and he sat up with a jerk, almost trying to crawl up the wall to get away from Rhivi.

“We can leave him for the town to deal with.”

“Yes, about that,” Rhivi said smiling. “The townsfolk were rather upset to discover a fight being heard from within the church and even less when someone spied half-dead guards, faces well-known mind you, being hauled back inside by a crazed ‘wild woman’. “

I sighed and marched ahead, flinging open the church doors. The sight that met us was not unlike what we’d encountered outside the sacked farming village, though amplified. A crowd of a hundred or more was crushing in through the wrought iron gates and flooding the stairs leading up to the church doors. The only thing preventing this now roaring mob from washing over us was a small circlet of city guards, with the Magistrate highest up on the steps, glaring at us.

“What… on EARTH… have you done?” he hissed.

Between Rhivi and myself, we used the recovered papers (and a little bit of testimony from the morose Peter) to exonerate ourselves from the assumption we were foreign raiders come to burn down churches and rob the town. The Magistrate took the revelations of Father Sveinhert’s true activities cooly, but barked down any refutations of the cold hard facts. Slowly, the crowd dispersed. With a nod, the Magistrate had his guards take away Peter, to be dealt with by the local law. Alone on the steps with us, the civic leader now deflated somewhat, and I could tell the fatigue that was setting in, with the knowledge he now carried.

“I thank you for revealing this obscenity to us, but NOT the manner in which you did it.”

“Didn’t have much choice…” grumbled Cohen.

“That aside, I will do as I promised and send word ahead of your coming to the lord of Munich, including what you have done here. For good or ill...” he cast one last gaze upon us all and left.

“Should we head back to the inn you think?” Cohen asked.

“I think this town’s had about all it can stand of us. Let’s be on our way. Mokaaj and I will see to our wounds this evening.”

With that, we set back out towards the main road. As we passed the outer perimeter of the town, Robynn made note of the newest fixture of the guard post: Peter’s corpse, swinging from a makeshift noose thrown over a hanging flagpole. The local justice was quite expedient, it seemed.


Our way to Munich seemed doomed to another nocturnal attack, especially at our slower rate on foot. But each night passed without occurrence. Until the fourth or so night, when a large wolf came into the campsite without fear. The beast was so quiet no one noticed until he was right beside Rhivi.

“*GACK*” cried Cohen before falling over backwards trying to reach his weapon whilst sitting.

“Oh, who’s a lonely boy, then?” Rhivi petted and fawned over the lupine visitor as if greeting an old friend.

“Rhivi, step back.” Cohen stood up, Diana grasped in his hands. “I’ve got that blighter dead to rights.”

“Oh put your toy away, Wolfie just wants to see his mama for once. Has you been a good boy? Yes! Has you been killing lots of nasty bandit scouts? Yes!”

The animal was practically smiling while licking at its considerable teeth.

“He’s your familiar?” Mokaaj asked, the first of us to approach.

“Nooo, we’s more than familiar isn’t we? Yes, we are the bestest, bestest friends!” Rhivi vigorously rubbed the thick coat of ‘Wolfie’ as she called him. Eventually the enormous animal laid on his back, content to have his belly rubbed.

“So that’s why nothing’s been bothering us on the roads?” I said.

“Well, that and the blessings of God, surely?” Rhivi teased.

Owing to the sight a wild, over-sized wolf would bring, Wolfie and Rhivi did not accompany us into the city of Munich. It was just as well. The city was one of the older ones in the country, having withstood a number of military attacks and destructive fires. As such, the battlements and fortifications were quite prominent, while much of the interior city had undergone a revitalization in architecture, showcasing much of the detailed “gothic” work which had spread like wildfire in the previous centuries.

While we expected another brief meeting, our host, Lord Guderian, was not only overjoyed to see us, but insisted on throwing a formal banquet for us that evening. Without much else to say, we thanked him and departed to rest in one of the city’s many fine taverns. That night, having coaxed Rhivi along with much badgering, buffed and cleaned ourselves as much as possible, we were escorted to a private dining hall where several other guests besides Lord Guderian awaited us.

I was seated by a local clergyman who greeted me pleasantly in Latin, sparking a private discourse.

“So, you are the ones who have been making so much noise around the country?”

“Well, I don’t know about that, brother, but we’ve done our best to serve our employer in Stuttgart and keep the peace as best we can.”

“They tell me you’ve fended off bandits left and right, even fought the undead! That surely makes a name for yourselves fast.”

I choked back some wine, trying to act nonchalant while remembering every terrible fight in vivid detail.

“Tell me, brother," I soldiered on, "what news of the schism in the church?”

The priest had a puzzled look about him.

“Schism? What schism?”

It suddenly occurred to me that certain ecclesiastical disputes might not have reached all the environs of the church.

“Oh, erm, nothing. A rumor picked up on the road. Forget I said anything.”

I quickly switched back to English to include my comrades.

“Our thanks, my lord,” I said, raising my goblet to Lord Guderian. “For this most auspicious welcome.”

“Not at all. We retain good relations with the Lady of Stuttgart, and any servants of her will. Especially ones so virtuous as yourselves to uncover the deceit and abuses of corrupt church leaders.”

“Here, here,” the priest beside me said.

The table as one toasted us. Cohen and Robynn both exchanged amused glances with me, unused to such high praise.

“I hope after your business with the Lady is concluded,” Guderian continued, “You might visit us again. I would have work for resourceful talents such as Honey Badger Acquisitions.”

Again I bowed my head slightly in supplication. “You do us great honor, my lord.”

The evening passed in general merriment and idle talk. With the food, warmth from the cold and pleasing chatter, it would be hard to imagine the country was on the precipice of all-out-war. We bedded that night with full bellies and lifted hearts, one last city on our list.

Several days later, Nuremberg greeted us in the distance as the day moved on from noon towards evening. Nestled amongst numerous trees fading orange and yellow in the fall weather, the city was just as old, but far less remodeled than Munich. The geography was much steeper, with the city taking on various levels and rooftops jutting up at various odd heights.

Our business was concluded quickly, with an uneventful audience with the Lord of Nuremberg, and we found ourselves with several hours left in the evening.

“I’ll have another good meal and soft bed,” said Cohen.

“I might go looking for some materials, but I could use more rest as well. All this walking is exhausting,” Mokaaj added.

Everyone agreed that the journey had been very tiring and that we would do best to retire early and make fresh for Stuttgart the next day.

Except Robynn.

“You all go on, I’ve uh… I’ve got to check out some of this place. No telling when we’ll back, right?”

“We make for first light. Don’t be too late,” I said.

“Yeah, yeah. Sure.”

And with that, she melted into the crowd as easily as rain joins a river. I would not discover for many more years what, exactly, Robynn had done that night…

Out of sight of the company, Robynn made quick work of the nearest windows to clamber up one building and then another one adjacent. Soon she was bounding across the roofs like a chipmunk, darting from shadow to shadow. It would have seemed random to anyone else, but Robynn was actually looking for someplace in particular. And she found it when halfway across the city, looking at an apartment seemingly completely closed off from any other buildings, with only a latched window as entrance.

Upon worming her way in, she discovered the apartment was much more spacious than it appeared from the outside, with only a few sputtering candle stubs for light. There were also many shelves and chests of various items, tools and goods. And weapons, many kinds of weapons, the sharpest and deadliest held by human hands, nearing Robynn’s throat.

“Can we help you, little miss?” a voice called out from the shadows.

“...Well yes you can!” she said back brightly. “I’m new in town, obviously, and in need of some excellent new tools.” She unrolled her own set and laid them upon the floor. “Not craftsman’s tools, mind you; tools fit for an artist. The best you’ve got!”

A thick, sharp blade revealed itself from the same inky darkness of one corner and stabbed at some sliced cheese.

“And what,” the voice asked, slightly clouded by chewing, ”makes you think you deserve such nice tools?”

“Well, I made it here didn’t I? Uninvited?”

The silence expanded considerably before being cut by the dark voice again. “Indeed you did. Alright, lass, let’s see some gold and the prize’ll be yours.”

I next saw Robynn when she was clambering into our room through the third story window. In the middle of the night.

“Robynn!” I said, sitting up from my bed. “Where on earth have you been all night?”

“It was a hell of a party!” she chirped, throwing down a comparatively large package slung over her shoulder onto her bed, opposite mine.

I turned over in irritation, while Robynn washed her hands in the room basin, whistling a tune. Sometimes I found it better not to ask what my comrades had been up to when on their own. I could always offer confession later.
- We all thought it was weird there being a guard at the church, but the DM was like, "they have an orphanage here too. They want to protect the kids." And we were just like, "alright." Again, it's 50/50 when you might get something for arguing a point with the DM. We haven't yet discovered the best way to skill check our way into information ahead of him dropping it on our heads.
- The instant the priest said "You!" I was like "uh oh." The fight with Sveinhert was our first direct encounter with a caster in combat, and most of our character were Good aligned, so no go on hitting him. Rhivi is True Neutral, and Robynn might be Chaotic Neutral, I forget.
- I said to My Friend From College, MULTIPLE times, "do not touch the mace, do not, do not, do not." As little of D&D as I know, the fallen bad guy's stuff being cursed happens more-often-than-not. Leading to this exchange:

"I pick up the mace."
"*rolls* You take 1 damage from that."
"Okay. I'm still holding it. What now?"
"You're still holding it?"
"*rolls* You now take 6 damage."
"Ugh, fine."
- We debated whether or no to hook up a rope and cave in the church ourselves, but given how badly the people reacted to us killing their local priest, it's probably best we didn't.
- The child trafficking is easily THE MOST DISTURBING thing we've yet encountered in the game, though the DM assures us that most of the kids are just being shunted to wealthy families (except the elvish kids... best not to think too long on what they're using them for).
- So yeah, two named factions we discovered, The Ring and the evil clerics I would later dub the Disciples of Loth. Later sessions and RP encounters basically laid out they are allied for some things, but not always together or even really united for a common cause. They've each got their own agenda. And we're interfering with both of them apparently:smalleek:
- Anyone familiar with druids knows Rhivi's had access to Wolfie this whole time, I just don't remember him being used significantly in earlier encounters, so I had no reason to mention him up to now. Also fairly sure he isn't called "Wolfie," just "my wolf." Again, that bothers me.
- The Lord Guderian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Guderian) thing was also a bit weird, but nothing bad has yet come of that, so I'm happy to just leave it as an open plot thread. Could be evil guy hiding behind a smile, or just another noble wanting to use us. (Also, apparently German churches aren't affected by the Reformation yet; I asked where Martin Luther was in all this, but the DM said Martin Luther wasn't a factor in the Reformation. As in, he flatly stated, 'Martin Luther didn't nail up anything or cause any debates.' Weird, but in an AU, almost anything goes.)
- Lastly, it's very funny when one of our characters goes off in the big cities for a sidequest, like getting some masterwork thief tools, 'cuz the rest of us know what's happening, but then there's a funny roleplay moment later when we rejoin. Dorsid playing stern big brother to snarky little sister Robynn is quickly becoming the default relationship. The DM also couldn't believe Robynn had actually paid for the tools, rather than trying harder to steal them. Thieves Guild side-missions have popped up more extensively in the other campaign, but we'll see if it gets developed more in later sessions.

Bom Ferro
2013-12-02, 04:27 AM
Thanks for the update!

2013-12-02, 10:41 AM
Thanks for the update!

You are welcome :smallbiggrin:.

I'm always annoyed when my 4th or 5th read through reveals yet more grammatical errors to correct, so the version I first post and what you might read several days later often differ slightly (usually just for a smoother read). I raced through producing this all Sunday, and I'm working to get Session 7 done quickly too, as it should be rather short.

Session 8 is a doozy, though.

2013-12-15, 10:58 PM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 7

Chapter 28, Once More, With Feeling
A little over one month after setting out from Stuttgart, our company found itself coming back down the southern roads to the view of golden forests and ever darkening days. The reception was much less hostile than before. Rumors abounded that the summer military campaigns were winding down. It seemed our travels might yet have yielded a positive result beyond training our weapons and improving our German.

“I must say,” the noble Lady said, after receiving us in her hall, “you have certainly countered my expectations.”

I kept a prideful smirk from crawling over my face. But I did share a knowing glance to my comrades.

“Indeed,” the Captain of the Guard added, “Instead of a senseless slaughter at the border of our land, you have spread it democratically across all the territories. Well done.”

The company’s expressions soured somewhat at this trivializing remark, but the Lady seemed to still be in an appreciative mood.

“In recognition of your success I have another important mission for your company to undertake.”

At this, she motioned for a servant to approach with a small wooden box. He walked in front of me and opened it… revealing another five officially sealed scrolls.

“...You have got to be joking,” Cohen muttered.

“Given your familiarity to the lords abroad, I require that you return to them once again, carrying this second round of diplomatic missives. And before you interrupt with your toadying, priest, it is also your neutrality as foreigners, and recent fame as courageous liberators that is determining this mission.”

I rallied myself despite the grumbling of my compatriots. “We are ever at your disposal, my noble Lady.”

In addition to pay commensurate with our recent journey, the Lady finally saw fit to grant us a single caravan with four oxen to more easily travel around. Cohen took the reins with no small amount of confidence, despite our worry, but Rhivi was able to calm and cajole the oxen into making the job much easier. We were off again, inside of a day.

We passed through Nuremberg a week later, with a slightly warmer acknowledgment from the court, and swiftly came upon Munich several days after. Lord Guderian was present in the square to greet us this time, although flanked by a considerable retinue of guards.

“Hail, company of heroes! So soon you return!”

“Only briefly, sire.” I said, jumping down from the caravan and bowing lightly. “The Lady sends a reply back.”

“Yes, yes,” he said absently. “In between your visits I have sent my own correspondence back. I expected you would return.”

I gave a look to my comrades in the cramped caravan. It was getting quite cramped and uncomfortable back there, and we were not even halfway through our second journey.

“It seems we are not as important as first believed, if the mail is circulating word ahead of us.”

“Not at all! You cannot know the walls you have brought down between the local nobles after so many years of fighting… You have my personal thanks for your sacrifices on this mission. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to ask.”

A small meeting was quickly convened, and while several parties wished to ask for gold, it was eventually agreed, remembering our last trek through the northlands, that an armed escort to the next city would be best.

“My lord, a few mounted guards would be most helpful in navigating the treacherous roads between your great city and the neighboring castle at Württemberg.”

“So be it!”

In all, eight mounted cavalry accompanied us out of the old city. Family, friends and any bored populace came out to see them off, waving, cheering and throwing what I hoped were handfuls of wet local flowers, and not rotten vegetables. It was almost like you read about in the stories, almost like a parade.

“I’d say,” I said to Cohen as I moved forward to sit beside him in the driving seat, “we’re doing much better than when first we met, down in England.”

“Did I not say the war torn land of Germany paid, well?” he replied with a grin.

The guards made welcome companions, and we passed the time together practicing each other’s languages, learning about their families, and taking turns driving the caravan and being taught to ride. By the outskirts of Württemberg, we had a fine camaraderie going.

And then there was a log in the road.
Chapter 29, Periculum Ad Nauseum
The leading rider called for a halt while he examined the obstacle in the road. The soldiers were nonchalant, but all of us in the caravan knew a bad omen and had already begun arming weapons.

“Alright… we’re going to take some rope and-”

“Watch the treeline!” cried Rhivi, just as two lines of archers appeared to our flank and several dozen armed bandits stood up from around and behind the log, heavily camouflaged. Arrows were in flight almost instantly, and the riders quickly regrouped and began to encircle us while the company as one began to leap down from the carriage and crouch for cover.

Cohen began loading Diana and peeking out from targets, careful not to present himself as one. Rhivi busied herself calming the cattle lest they spook and leave us in the open, defenseless. Mokaaj and Robynn did their best to keep the sword and club-wielding bandits behind the log. I winced as I watched soldiers shrug off any arrows that slipped past their armor, noting how I had suffered similarly not long ago.

“I’m not much help from afar…” I muttered to Cohen as he took a shot and swiftly ducked from return fire.

“Well, then do what comes natural,” he replied, loading and cranking back his crossbow.

“Which is?”

“Pray!” he said, and fired again, this time eliciting a sharp cry of pain from somewhere in the trees.

I beat down a snarky reply and realized he had a point. I began a prayer for aid in the battle while the mounted guards rallied themselves into a charge against the archers. Three times they ran down the men in the cramped woods. Some were trampled, others fled, and a few managed to grapple a guard or two to the ground.

With the marksmen mostly engaged, the other bandits made their move. It was all going to devolve into a melee. Cohen dropped his crossbow as gently as possible and he, Robynn and I prepared to meet the attackers head on. Just as we were about to come to blows, Wolfie vaulted from nowhere over our heads and against the leading line. As one, the bandits froze, and seeing one of their comrades quickly disemboweled, retreating back for the log.

“After them!” Cohen roared, and we all leapt at his command.

The fighting was much more sustained, and I wondered later if these men were perhaps girded by the knowledge that we had been the company to earlier slay their brothers. But we were also emboldened by the additional aid of Lord Guderian’s men, and the day was soon ours.

The leader of the mounted cavalry road up beside us as we proceeded to methodically prepare the bodies for a permanent rest, I sanctifying the ground and remains while again, Cohen and Rhivi did the messier work.

“We’ve lost two, I’m afraid. Heinz and Steiner,” he said solemnly. I added their names to my list of prayers. “Some of the horses are also lamed. It will slow our progress.”

“I do not think it will matter much,” I said finally. “They’ve always attacked us in prepared, staggered spots. If this was their plan, they won’t likely attack us again before the city.”

He nodded, then led his horse back to formation with his remaining men. After the loading of our dead into the wagon, one of the guard insisted on taking over the driving for Cohen, and the rest of us proceeded on foot, acting as a sort of honor guard for what was now a funeral hearse.

It was late into the night when we finally arrived back in what before had been a lush community of winemakers and farmers, but now seemed much gloomier and morose. The guards took their men to a local, cold crypt for safekeeping, before joining us in a local bar.

We did not make merry that evening, but drank together in silence. This was what the life of a soldier was like, I found. Days of marching, with company you grow fond of, and then a pitched attack where some lived and others died. All so random and unfair, it seemed. As we departed for the road West the next morning, I tried to offer some words of solace for the soldier’s leader, telling him that God’s plan was ultimately unknowable to us, but he shrugged off my speech with a curt nod and walked away.
Chapter 30, The Artful Armoursmith
It began to rain soon after our departure, a dreary affair that threatened to bring a preview of winter chill if we did not keep dry. The fatigue and sorrow we all felt served to darken the quickly approaching fortress of Auschwitz even more. When we finally arrived, an attempt was made to place us once again within the iron-barred holding pens of last time, but one collective glare and a swift shove from Cohen led us straight away to the lord’s war chambers.

With Rhivi and our combined experiences of the past season, we were able to more fruitfully communicate to the brutish warlord, with even Cohen offering a defensive bark of German to the surprise (and slight amusement) of those gathered.

Afterwards, we all made for a local tavern, but I stopped before entering as a thought occurred to me. I waved off from my friends and proceeded out into the surrounding alleys, following the smell of smoke and listening for the tell-tale ringing of metal.

A few minutes walking brought me to The Phoenix’s Nest forge. A burly armorsmith was still pounding away at steel plate into the night, with several apprentices finishing and embellishing other pieces around the yard. He noticed my presence while taking a break and had an appreciative attitude for a man of the cloth.

The man, named Jörg, was apparently very religious and the local clergy had been rather demanding of patronage in order to sanctify his forge. I happily agreed to perform the service, if he could provide me a shield to match the armor the Dwarves of England had given me.

Apparently I made this man’s day even better by showcasing my armor, as he had never seen actual dwarfcraft in person. He delighted in its intricate designs and subtle complexities, pointing out various details to his workers. Jörg promised me a heavy steel shield within a week’s time. I paid him in advance and after blessing the building, I returned to the tavern to drink with my friends.


Our arrival in the Frankfurt court was less frivolous than previously, as our actions had given us an air of respectability, but we were still a source of entertainment for the nobles more than diplomatic messengers. The Lord of Frankfurt himself dained to shake our hands, and I was struck by his boyish appearance. He was a grown man with a small nose and high forehead, and generally looked far younger than someone who ruled an entire portion of Germany. His manner was light and pleasant, but he seemed overly forceful at it. We thankfully did not have to play guests of the court and made haste back to Auschwitz at my request.

The shield Jörg had fashioned may not have equaled the Dwarves in their skill with metal, but it was beautiful to behold nonetheless. There was layering and detail, even filigree that was sure to be quickly scuffed and marred to oblivion. It had the appearance of both a sturdy armor and valuable treasure. Even Cohen was impressed. The rest of the group was eager to make good time back to Stuttgart, so we quickly made our thanks and headed South again.

The trip had been eased somewhat by the cart and oxen, sparing us our feet and shaving a full week from the last trip. It was now well into fall and the nights were again growing cool. More than I prayed for food and dry lodging in the unsure days ahead, I prayed for fire. And God, in his mercy, saw fit to grant my prayers early, igniting both of our two lead oxen in an instant.
Chapter 31, Let Slip The Dogs
As the cattle roasted alive where they stood, my eyes traced the jets of flames to the mouths of two stalking creatures in the middle of the road. Blackened, lupine things with gaping jaws and glowing eyes. The company jumped down as one from the wagon and fanned out fairly quickly, looking for additional enemies, having learned well how our frequent attackers liked to outnumber and outflank us.

“What are these beasts?” Cohen shouted as he moved to ready his crossbow against the creatures.

“Hellhounds! Fire-breathing canines summoned from the fiery depths!”

With the others teaming up to face one of the devilish monsters, I found myself alone against the other. I tried a few incantations I’d used against the undead before, to little effect. Before I could think of another strategy, the hellhound was upon me. It leapt and snarled with gleaming teeth as I repelled it with my new shield, thanking God again for His divine providence. I tried a few half-hearted swings with my mace, but found no success. The dog soon tired of playing with me and deftly swooped around my guard, latching onto my shield arm gauntlet.

“GARGH! No! Bad dog!”

I used our close proximity to bring down my mace solidly, smashing the beast’s skull with a satisfying crack. While fazed, the animal was quick to recover, belching a jet of flame at my face. I turned at the last instant, likely preventing myself from being struck blind. Even still, my skin screamed in agony, and it was difficult to remain standing. I exchanged a few more blows with the hellhound before it was unceremoniously knocked down and felled from behind by Cohen.

“Thank you,“ I rasped as I fell to one knee.

“Are you alright?” he asked, lowering his mace and pointing to his own head.

“Later,” I said standing again, “There are still enemies about. I can feel their magic.”

As if to underscore the point, a glistening, transparent axe materialized between us, drifting in the air before darting straight at Cohen.

“I hate bloody magic!” Cohen said as he tried to outmaneuver the conjured weapon.

“There! In the bushes!” Rhivi cried.

We all turned to look where she was pointing. It was hard to notice at first, but a particular spot was shimmering as if seen through a haze.

“They’ve spotted us! Fire!” a voice cried out.

Arrows began to shoot from the bushes and the company scattered to create less of a target. Cohen and I ran widest in opposite directions, hoping to come around the enemy’s location and pin them in. Mokaaj and Robynn hung back, trying to return fire but having little effect. Rhivi acted even more stupendously brave and idiotic than the rest of us, charging straight ahead, against the arrows, before thrusting out her staff along the ground, through the illusionary foliage.

A feeling permeated of magical pressure vanishing, as if a storm front had passed, and there in the dim twilight was revealed several armed bandits, a squad of archers and two more mace-wielding clerics of Loth in armor and robes. Around them was a broken circle of silver dust.

“Clever, druid,” one of the clerics said. “But no matter. You will all die today.”

“You first,” Rhivi said, before stepping aside and letting Wolfie lunge into the tight formation.

The melee began in earnest, with swords and maces drawn, as everyone scrapped against multiple foes. Rhivi and her wolf made short work of the archers, but the swordsmen were giving Cohen and I trouble, aiding the clerics before peeling off to attack Mokaaj, who was throwing wild magic left and right. Blood was being spilled all over, and it was sometime before I noticed how much of it was mine.

“You weaken, priest,” one of the clerics said as he battered his mace against my shield. “That is why you will lose. The great plans of Loth are timeless and legion. You cannot hope to stop them.”

I struggled to keep on my feet and raise my arms as blow after blow struck my armor. Two other bandits had surrounded me. I was outnumbered and apart from my comrades.

“God will give me the strength I need…” I panted.

“Perhaps you just need some rest.”

The cleric swung his mace faster than I could see, just as I was working to deflect other attacks, and caught me clean. There was a brief flash of light and then… darkness. I felt my body crumple to the ground, distantly, and very quickly could not feel it at all. There was a growing coldness, a finality overtaking me, and the sounds of battle grew fainter and fainter. The only thing I could hear was my own breath and it too was slowly leaving me behind. Until everything was silence.
Chapter 32, The Brink

“Cohen, what’s happening?”

“He fell, the bastards killed him!”

“You’re next, boy!”

“I’ll have your guts out, you pig! HA!”

“Come ‘ere, pretty girl…”

“Stay away from me! Ĵetarmilo!”


“Rally, you useless worms! Don’t let them-”


“Away, beast!”

“Rip him to shreds, boy!”

“We should retreat!”

“No retreat, you cowards! HA!”


“Damn you, brats! You’ll never survive what’s coming!”

“Neither will you!”






“GUUUUUH-huh...heh...heh…” I gasped as my vision came back to me.

Rhivi was looming over me, her wild hair and sparkling eyes a bit exaggerated by the flushing of her cheeks and several spatters of blood.

“You’re alive,” she smiled.

“Yes…” I said, “Barely. Help me up.”

Rhivi struggled against my heavy armor to haul me into a sitting position, and then get underneath an arm. After several minutes work, I was standing, albeit swaying somewhat.

Cohen and Mokaaj walked over, even more bruised and bloodied.

“You look awful,” Cohen said.

“So do you,” I replied, eliciting a smirk.

“Your face...” Mokaaj said.

“It will be fine. Where’s Robynn?”

“Over here, padre,” the small thief sounded. She was again, pilfering the corpses of the bandits, which I noted had already messily had their heads severed. I must have been unconscious for longer than I thought.

“Come here, Robynn. Join hands with me.”

The young lady almost offered protest but I cast her a stern look, perhaps aided by my scarred visage. One by one, each of us grasped the hands of another, forming a circle. I dug deep, reaching into my bones, then releasing the words that would call forth the divine magic.


In an instant, a surge of energy coursed through me, setting my burns and other wounds on fire for a brief moment. I gritted my teeth to keep from crying out. Then there was cooling sensation and it was over. I could feel the grip of my friends tighten momentarily, then release. They’d felt the same.

“Usually that feels better,” Cohen grumbled.

“Mortal wounds take more to heal, and the damage repaired is still felt.”

“Can’t argue with results,” the warrior said, shifting his arms, neck and shoulders eliciting a series of pops.

“Speaking of, did you find anything on the bodies?” I said, turning to Robynn.

“Oh, nothing much,” she smiled. “Just more demonic spider tokens on your two magic-wielding friends.”

“Anything special about their armed guards?” I asked.

“No tattoos this time. They don’t seem to be employed by the Ring,” Cohen said.

“Hmm, strange.”

“More strange is how they keep finding us,” Cohen said, scuffing his boots in the dirt. “I’ll admit we weren’t traveling very fast, but once again we’re waylaid in-between the cities?”

“We’re getting a bit of a reputation,” Mokaaj said. “I’d say we get some notice whenever we go somewhere.”

“A more important thought,” Rhivi added “is where they came from? None of these parties seem ready for fast travel. It would take them just as long as us to get somewhere, and we’ve never come upon them first. They spring their traps first.”

“What are you saying?” I asked her.

“They must always pick a point of ambush, and camp nearby. If they know our route from a scout in the towns, then they pick a point at the road and head for it. But they can’t ambush farther than they travel a few hours ahead of us.”

“So you’re saying… they teleport by magic?” Cohen said.

“She’s saying they must camp somewhere nearby,” Mokaaj said.

“Yes. But those crafty goons wouldn’t think to hide it very well. I bet if we asked a birdy real nice, it could find their campground easy as snatching a bee hive.”

“My raven familiar!” Mokaaj shouted with glee.

“The problem with this plan,” I said slowly, “Is that we’re in little condition for another fight like that. All our strength is gone, Mokaaj and I would need a night’s rest to regain our magic, and we’ve no idea how many they’ve got encamped versus the number we meet on the road.”

“They never attack twice in the same place,” Rhivi said. “They’re likely small in number to be swift of foot. I’ll wager they need a night’s rest as well, if they get word of defeat tonight.”

We all stood a moment, absorbing the situation.

“Camp it is, then,“ Cohen said finally. “We move at first light. I call last watch. Nobody wake me unless we’re being attacked.”

And the matter was settled.
Chapter 33, A Surprise In The Woods
Between Mokaaj and Rhivi, the raven was swiftly instructed and sent on its way to find the closest camp within the immediate area. There was some concern if it should be qualified as a “bandit camp,” “human camp,” or even just explaining “camp” to a bird. Luckily, it returned within the hour and told Rhivi we were not but a short walk from where the men had come from.

Our company made a strong effort to creep up on the campsite, but we needn’t have bothered. The fire had smoldered away to nothing the previous night, and other than a number of horses and pack mules, the area was deserted.

The camp itself was nestled in the largest clear space in the forest far enough back from the trails to not be seen or heard, but close enough to spring fast ambushes. A central fire pit, around which sat four small pup tents and a larger caravan tent. With so little in it, it was hard to imagine the place housing such lethal denizens as we’d encountered.

“Alright…” Cohen said, wringing his hands for warmth in the cold morning air. “Robynn, you’re on treasure hunting detail. Mokaaj, see if there’s any lingering evil spells. Rhivi, help me wrangle the animals so we can ride them back to the Lady.”

I gave the burly fighter an appraising look. He scowled back.

“Something I’m forgetting, master scholar?”

I smiled, holding up my hands. “Oh no, I’m just glad to have a capable leader directing this company in this matter. I only wish I could put my pretty talking skills to use for once.”

He smirked lightly and clasped a large hand on to my shoulder. “You’ve done enough for now, priest. Why not take it easy for awhile?” He walked away without saying another word.

I never was told how poor I looked after the battle, but various reactions to the question over the years tells me it was quite a troubling sight. I wish I could say that was the last time I came so close to death.

Without much else to do, I shadowed Robynn again, observing how a professional thief… thieves. In the wild, no less. Most of Robynn’s talents seemed to lie in creeping: moving through spaces soft-footed, almost graceful, but with deceptive speed. She could get from one end of a crowded room to another in two blinks of an eye. And have half the coin purses from their owners. I found her in a pup tent, puzzling over a small chest.

“Something interesting?” I asked.

“Yep, definitely something.”

There was a series of clicks as she opened the chest and began palming the inside.

“Few sneaky traps… mmm… and a fair amount of loot. Here.”

At this, she began handing me sacks of coinage, one by one, slowly and delibeately, as if she was carefully arranging and removing the bags in a pattern known only to her. Finally, she shifted her weight and leaned half her body into the chest.

“And now we come to the fun game I like to call, ‘What’s Under The False Bottom?’ “

There was a sharp crack, and then a distinct hissing noise.

“Crap… crapcrapCRAP! RUN!!!”

I wrestled all of the loose coin bags tightly into my arms and fumbled the few steps I needed to reach the outer edge of the tent, but was pushed several yards further by Robynn, a plank of wood still in her hands. As I looked back, a thin line of green vapor poured from between the tent flaps.

“Poison gas?” I asked.

Robynn nodded her head, looking a bit like a child who had dropped a piece of food on the ground only for it to be snatched up by a street dog. I gave her an encouraging pat on the back and carried the gold over to the horses for packing. Cohen was struggling to corral all the stubborn mules and put away what valuables we’d located onto their backs, while Rhivi was chatting amiably with two large warhorses.

“Making friends?” I said.

“Oh yes. Not that it was difficult. These mean old bandits have been real stinkers to these fine creatures, and Donner and Blitzen especially are quite excited to be helping a company of true heroes on their quests.”

At this she indicated the majestic warhorses who dipped their heads in my direction.

“Just don’t tell them you’re English,” Rhivi added from behind her hand. “Sore spot with them.”

I shook my head in confusion and ran a hand across Donner’s back. He was a handsome animal, midnight black with a long mane, and I looked forward to having the freedom granted by owning my own horse rather than renting carts and cattle for the rest of my life.

“We’re lucky there are so many,” Cohen said, hefting the gold I had brought onto the mules. “Selling off half of these will offset the loss of the cart and those dead oxen.”

“Shh!” Rhivi said, clamping her hands over Blitzen’s ears. “You’ll upset them!”

Cohen and I shared a look, but I put up my hands in defeat.

“Alright,” the fighter said. “Everybody mount up. Me and Dorsid will take the big ones, everyone else grab a steed and mule. We’ve still a ways to go before Stuttgart.”
Chapter 34, Return And Renewal
The sunlight was just beginning to rest behind the horizon as our party arrived once more in the realm of the Lady. Scouting riders had seen us far off now that we were an elongated train of animals versus the simple driven cart before. We were greeted just inside the gates by the Captain of the Guard, wearing his usual condescending sneer.

“I don’t remember sending you off with this many beasts,” he said.

“You also didn’t send us off with a retinue of guards,” Cohen said, dismounting his horse. “But that didn’t stop us from fighting off a platoon’s worth of bandits.”

There was an icy chill between them.

“We lost the oxen and caravan to an attack a few nights ago,” I said, trying to mollify the situation. “The extra horses from the bandits’ camp should more than recompense for that.”

“A few wild nags and thieves’ mules is hardly equal to the pedigreed stable of her Lady-”

“Just take them and say thank you, you pillicock.” Cohen thrust one of the animals’ leads into a servant’s hand and stomped off.

“Forgive him, sir,” I said. “It has been a trying journey. The battles were much closer than he would care to admit. An afternoon’s rest will do us all good.”

The Captain rallied himself, obviously realizing that berating a man of the cloth was easily beneath someone of his respectability. But still, he would not be denied his irritation.

“Indeed, you all look the worse for the road,” he said, eyeing my still rather blood and mud encrusted armor and cloak. “We would not like the Lady’s champions looking like common street urchins.”

I compared my wares to the rather shiny and none-too-used armor of the Captain. He looked like he hadn’t sweated or dirtied himself for days.

“Indeed not, sir. But that is easily remedied. SARCIO.”

At my word, the residues and dirtiness was obliterated from my armor and boots in an instant. The rends and tears of my clothes repaired themselves. All of this occurred in a brilliant, brief flash of light, leaving my figure sterling and wholesome. I gave the Captain a smug little smile.

“Better, my lord?”

The Captain crossed himself and strode away in disgust immediately.

“Man, what a jerk,” Robynn said, appearing beside me unheard. “The nerve of some people.”


“Yes, padre?”

“Give me back my coin purse, please.”

“Oh, uh, you mean this? I was just holding it for you.”

The young thief sheepishly handed over my bag of coins. It felt slightly lighter than I last remembered.

“Say, how about some of that divine cleaning for little ol’ me, huh?” She threw me a toothy grin. I threw her into the nearest mud pile.

Several hours later, we were once again before the Lady of Stuttgart. The entire inner court was in session, eager to see us returned and hear the results of our efforts.

“It is good to see you again, my champions. Though it is most regrettable you have lost some of my prized stable and transport in your mission.”

Cohen made a move to say something but I waved him off.

“Still, your successes speak far louder than your failings. In traversing the dangerous paths of our country, and evading all attacks upon this mission, you have helped to bring diplomacy where once there was only bloodshed. You have not only my thanks, but the thanks of my people.”

At this, a small applause went up from the assembled courtiers. I motioned for the others to turn and bow in response. The Lady quickly settled the court once again.

“In addition to your promised payment, I have one last requirement of you…”

At this, the Captain entered holding a small, wooden box with the seal of the Lady upon it.

“Oh, bloody hell, not again…” Cohen muttered.

“The various lords of Germany have put aside talk of outright war to approach the matter of succession peaceably and with honor. In several weeks, we will convene in the city of Berlin to determine the future ruling house of this country. Your company will aid in this.”

I cleared my throat and spoke in as measured a voice as possible.

“I take it we are to act as your emissaries, my noble Lady?”

“You are to act as guards, diplomats and intelligenciers, priest. Honey Badger Acquisitions will organize the conference and ensure no attempts to subvert it succeed. Do this, and you will be rewarded handsomely. The fate of the entire kingdom is in your hands.”
- Between this game and our other campagn, the "courier" mission was beginning to grow a bit stale. By and large, however, I'd say the DM was giving us just as many encounters as any other job/assignment, so the window dressing arguments were a wash.
- Once the DM said, "you come upon a log in the road," we all knew what was coming. This was a fight I really regretted not having some ranged attacks in (my spell list was still rather limited on that), but the NPC cavalry came in real handy.
- Again with my habit of giving forgettable NPCs names; Jörg Seusenhofer (http://www.aeiou.at/aeiou.encyclop.s/s551769.htm;internal&action=_setlanguage.action?LANGUAGE=en) was a famed armorer of the 16th century, helping to progress the Renaissance styles to a new age. He took over his father's well-known trade and built the family name for another generation, designing armor for kings and emperors. He sadly died with no heir to take over and thus was ended the family trade of armorsmithing.
- The instant I heard "fire-breathing dogs" I had a flash of memory and was metagaming like a bitch, searching my own copy of the Monster Manual for tips. I didn't get a warning against this, but probably because there wasn't much I could do to give an unfair advantage, and my character had enough ranks in Knowledge to have access to the same info.
- The hellhound fight was the first time we had anybody go down mid-fight, without any chance of immediate heal. So I thought I was gonna be the first PC killed in this campaign. It was kind of an honor. Luckily, the Random Number God was with me, and I rolled my 1/10 percentage to self-stabilize on my third try. The funny part was, in the midst of the game, we had initiative rolls that put me first, but I was already incapacitated. So when it came time to give my turn, I just went limp in my chair and pretended to hack up blood. This action persisted as my "turn" for the rest of the encounter. (And yes, the Monty Python And The Holy Grail line was uttered. How could it not be?)
- There was a bit of feinting from the DM with the Bandit campsite. First it might be far away, then it's right next door. First the camp might be occupied, then we should hurry up and loot everything. Then Robynn has a trap almost poison her. The DM has fun with newbies.
- The Company has horses! We have to feed and stable them, of course (once again, more complex game considerations getting introduced), but speeding up travel is worth it. Plus, the warhorses can aid in attack rounds. I knew those ranks in Ride would come in handy; you gotta love how easy tabletop mechanics can make learning tricky real-life skills.
- "Peace conference in Berlin." The words themselves gave me chills. We all knew going in what a fustercluck the event was going to be, best laid plans and all that, but as an adventurer, you have to chip in eventually. So the next session was gonna be a big brew-ha-ha in the events of our campaign, and we were all looking forward to seeing whether or not we'd survive it. Hopefully you are too!

2013-12-16, 08:08 AM
This is easily one of the best, if not the best, campaign journal I have ever read. Bravo, bravo, bravo.

Double cheers for the medieval world meets DnD approach.

2013-12-16, 10:57 AM

But thank you. I give all inspiration credit to the esteemed SilverClawShift Campaign (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=116836) journals. I like the setting a lot too. I'm always wanting more info on the background of the world, and what else is going on, but my teammates just wanna kill stuff, loot the bodies and level up into even more badassery :smallbiggrin:

The recent winter ice crashed our last meetup attempts, but hopefully we'll get back on track in the new year. Probably have to start trying something like Roll20 and Google Hangout.

I think I'll get some write-ups for the Other Campaign(TM) up next, since that'll go faster than writing up Session 7 (which was regular length but condensed a LOT of time and events into a single day's play).

Astral Avenger
2013-12-17, 02:47 PM
This is definitely on of the better campaign journals I've come across, right up there with Kaveman26 (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/member.php?u=62374)'s logs.

2013-12-17, 04:09 PM
I consider that high praise, thank you.

2013-12-17, 04:42 PM
The Other Campaign(TM) Part 1: Setting, Rules & Party
So while gearing up for tackling session 7, I figured I'd take a breather and relate how things are going in The Other Campaign(TM).

This is being DMed by My Other Friend From College, as his first experience running a game, while our regular DM gets to hack and slash again. The world itself is High Fantasy, and inspired by the Forest Kingdom books of Simon R. Green (so of course I quickly found and began to read those:P)

In my own notes, I've begun referring to this as "The Champions of Alleheim," which is also the name of the country at large. It's bordered in each direction by another major country, where one or more resident races has its homeland. I picture it more like Middle-Earth in that regard, compared to HBA's campaign. To the north is Everwalt, cold, mountainous and scary, with lots of rising bad ju-ju. East is Muentor (not much we've got there besides the usual war brewing). West is Imervauld, the land of the elves. Now that I think about it... I've no idea what's South. Either another country or a sea.

Mechanically, the game is much stricter on certain things that we were given an introductory buy on in HBA. We get maximum health at first level, but roll hit die every level up after. We're more experienced in character builds since we started this after HBA, so several of us chose more exotic classes or are using more optimized builds.

The Champions of Alleheim:
- Mokaaj is playing a druid here (dubbed Sumac by her husband).
- Cohen is once again a fighter, called Wolf.
- The (former) DM is also playing a fighter, called Thrasher (no telling if Slayer joins us later:smallbiggrin:).
- The DM's wife is playing a Psion (Izera).
- And I, your not-so-humble OP, am trying out a Dragon Shaman, named Graster. (I told you I was inspired by the SilverClawShift archives.) Sadly, MOFFC was not about to let me start out as Dragonborn, so for now I'm a plain human DG. Still, the class abilities look fun and I'm really stacking this for Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidation ridiculousness. Beyond your average, CG "Justice No Matter What" type, I like to roleplay with things like "Salutations, friend. Do you have a moment to talk about the glory of dragons?"

In general, we're scheming a lot, and taking more risks. It's been stated by MOFFC that we should be prepared with multiple sheets because the danger level might jump considerably, and he'd take glee in slaughtering some foolish mortals. I'd say this campaign is gonna be fairly EPIC in scale.

2013-12-17, 05:25 PM
The Other Campaign(TM) Part 2: What Happened in Session 1
The land is in turmoil as paranormal activities are on the rise, and an ineffectual king sits on the thrown, with rumors of abuses tarnishing the crown. Into this world, our heroes (really more thugs-for-hire) meet up in a small town called Cupron, where the village elder buys them a round in the local tavern. There's a slaver's ring operating out of the nearby Fort Junata, and we're tasked with going over there and cracking some skulls to get back captured villagers.

After downing our drinks we promptly pass out having been drugged :smallmad:. We next wake up in a cell, and Wolf uses a strength check to bust us out. (Really, credit where it is due to our new DM for getting in two fantasy cliches for the price of one; We all met in an inn (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YouAllMeetInAnInn) AND a jail cell (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YouAllMeetInACell). Bravo.) After collecting our weapon and arms again, we make our way room to room, basically cutting down all the guards into meaty chunks; there's a reason the DM named his character Thrasher. Each guard is also wearing a gilded amulet with an unknown sigil upon it.

One of the most notable moments came after Sumac the druid located a hidden door, leading to a hallway with a chest in an alcove. Of course, right before the alcove is the ol' floor colored tarp, leading to Thrasher taking a sudden vertical trip down into a guards' sleeping room. This lead to a moment where the DM has a poor choice of words amidst an immature group:

Thrasher: What do I see in this room?
DM: A smashed bit of furniture from your entrance, several bedrolls and THREE. ****ING. GUARDS.
Me (Graster): Heh, like they're naked in bed together?
DM: *sigh* No they-
Me: Thasher drops in from above, ruining the party, and he's like, "Were you guys, just-?" "Uh... uh... You can't prove anything! Shut up! Kill him!"
DM: ...roll for initiative.

Eventually, we get down to the lowest room in the tower and there's this creepy ritual chamber with the same sigil drawn large on the floor, with the whole room lit by an eerie red glow seemingly coming from nowhere. We've got some kind of cult leader with a woman in the center of the room, plus a number of guards (and some elite dudes in nicer armor). So of course, we have at them, eventually taking them all down. Highlights include Thrasher cutting through guys like warm butter, Wolf lighting himself on fire, and me missing attacks about 80% of the time before rolling back-to-back Natural 20s. This is where I first started trying Intimidate checks, without too much success.

After about 3/4 of the goons are dead, the light goes out from the room, and when it comes back, there's no more red glow, but there is this tall, gangly, long-haired, all black thing the DM names as a "meta-demon" standing in the sigil. It thanks us for spilling enough blood to complete the ritual (doh!), kicks the damsel across the room, and says it's been a long time since it was last in this plane and can we remind it how things work? "Like this!" Thrasher cries before attacking. The beast goes down eventually, again largely thanks to the power attacks of Thrasher, but it's more of a Dr. Claw/Aku victory than anything else. The creature teleports away, ominously saying, "The portal is open now." (The elite guards' sexy armor all goes poof with the Boss' exit. There was much bemoaning.)

I unbind the sacrifice, learn her name is Marianne, and upon getting her back to Cupron, we learn how the whole "shanghai adventurers-for-hire" arrangement is a tactic both the elder and the innkeeper were in on, though the innkeeper swears it was just to get his daughter back (natch). We don't trust the Elder much, as he's not very apologetic about the whole thing, but we follow his advice to bury the medallions outside town at a crossroads and track the rest of the slavers south to the town of Straigh.

2013-12-18, 01:36 PM
The Other Campaign(TM) Part 3: What Happened in Session 2
So, to begin, as exciting as this session got, one of our party members was absent for it :smallfrown:. Mokaaj aka Sumac the Druid was absent for personal reasons, and so no cool druid stuff got to go down. But did that stop us from trouncing evil? Heck no!

I should also explain that an email conversation occurred before this session between myself and the HBA DM about feats I was considering for my Dragon Shaman. As a complete newb to options beyond the PHB and core, I was using all kinds of supplements and online guides, looking for anything that fit but was cheesy as all get out. He was genuinely curious where I found something like Imperious Command (http://dndtools.eu/feats/drow-of-the-underdark--93/imperious-command--3193/) (not useable until I had enough skill ranks, but good to get asap for my build). "Drow Of The Underdark," I told him. And that was that...

Picking up from the last time, we were headed out on the road to Straigh when a new party member joined up. Given that Sumac wouldn't be joining us, the Other DM was allowed to dual-play another character dipping into his favored class: rogue. And not just any kind of rogue, but, you guessed it, a DROW ROGUE. At the very mention of such a well-known D&D trope we had not yet encountered in either game, I called across the table, "this isn't because I brought up Drow Of The Underdark, is it?" The ODM snickered. "Oh my god, it is!" And then he laughed with evil mirth. Giving the DM ideas is one thing; giving the DM ideas for when he's a PC is far, far worse.

Now, the ODM didn't tell us what this character was called, he just had him fall into our stride while we were all traveling the main road. And of course, we're soon attacked by bandits, seemingly just desperate, hungry men. Afterwards, the Drow still wouldn't reveal his name, so Wolf/Cohen just suggested we call him "Ted." As this backronymed handily into "The Effing Drow," the name stuck. So Ted joined our merry band.

We make it to Straigh and make our introductions to the Lord Robert Straigh. It is his conjecture the king is up to something not-so-kosher and a rebellion is needed to set the country right. However, he can't do this alone, and he needs the support of two other noble lords and a retired general. It's time once again for... COURIER MISSIONS.

But before that sets off, Ted wanders about the city looking for a local thieves guild hangout. Spying a lookout sequestered on a rooftop, Ted expertly makes his way up, unseen, and creeps along until he's right behind the unsuspecting guard/lookout. Pulling out his knife and grappling the man into a rigid position of immobility, Ted says... "Whatcha watchin'?"

It should be said, the ODM does this on two consecutive nights, eventually earning an invitation to the Thieves Guild. But we're all growing anxious to ship out, so we're soon on our way as guards for a caravan, headed towards Kollan. This is a city divided, much like post-war Berlin, and it borders Alleheim and Muenter. The man we came to see is Baron Founderdrake, retired military officer. The Baron is in agreement the King is mishandling the growing chaos and clearly up to something bad, but he will only commit to a rebellion if the other lords are already on board.

So we quickly travel north of Kollan to where the second lord, Duke Yorthin, is located. When he scoffs at our tales of problems in the kingdom with the slavers, cults and bandits, I make a roll (only lvl 2 and already at +11 for Diplomacy; mm-mm cheesy:smallbiggrin:) and give my best shot at a Patrick Stewart Speech (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PatrickStewartSpeech). "You are quite good at that," our Psion player says. Sometimes I impress even myself #humblebrag :smallwink: So we've got another person up for rebellion, and he even gives us his official seal to carry as a mark of commitment.

We head back west towards Straigh with a caravan and are again attacked by bandits. (Man, D&D roads are just lousy with highwaymen.) Luckily, with Ted as our scout, we caught them a ways off, and it was largely a ranged battle before the melee team swept in to finish them off. Ted stays behind to scout out where the bandits were coming from (he only found an abandoned camp; no horses, sadly:P) He rejoins us as we update Lord Straigh, then continue on westward to Fort Hueller, one of the last bastions before the territory between Alleheim and Imervauld.

Of course, our last recruit, Lord Forin, lies in this dangerous in-between region, and so we are attacked once again en-route. Not by bandits, however. This time, our foes are these monstrous, humanoid figures, covered in spines, spikes, tentacles, and claws. Some are tiny as children, others adult-sized, and a few are big hulks. The ranged specialists take out the smaller ones while Thrasher, Wolf and I focus on the big guy. While My Other Friend From College was working on a name for these things, Wolf/Cohen deemed his descriptor of "Misshapen" as the best possible name for them.

Once again, we meet some resistance from the ivory tower noble brushing off our tales of misery, so I lay it on even thicker than last time:

Lord Forin: Have you some evidence of these accusations? This... murderous cult?
Graster: [pretending to pull out a lady's favor] I have only the tears I collected from a young woman... And the blood from those we were too late to save... Is that enough evidence for you, my lord?
Rest of Party: ...good grief...

After my stunning, Oscar-worthy performance, we send word back to Lord Straigh and the others of our success, but instead of heading back east or awaiting further instructions, we talk Lord Forin into granting us several of his guards, to investigate the origin of the Misshapen, seemingly emanating from across the border in Imervauld. The land seems pretty nasty, barren and unforgiving, with all the trees dying and covered in claw marks. When we reach the Elven Palace, we pledge our aid to the Elvish King in this rising mutual enemy (but also let him in on our little scheme with the lords, just so he knows who might end up running the show soon :smallwink:).

When I inquire about the Misshapen (as well as the dragons, because damn I want my Rite of Rebirth scales), the King directs us to a Sage located beyond a rough forest that is 6 days travel by foot. We make our exit and get to steppin', hacking our way through the dark forest. On the 2nd night, we are ambushed. And I mean ambushed. On a whim, when asked what order we will be taking the watch, the ODM decides to let Ted (the keen-eyed rogue) sleep and Thrasher (the strength over perception fighter) to take watch. Needless to say... Thrasher's attentiveness leaves much to be desired. So a larger gang of Misshapen get much closer than they should have, and we're at more of a disadvantage when the fighting starts. (The ODM was actually very miffed by both this choice and some bad rolls Thrasher took.)

We survive the fight, but being so low level, our healing ability is not what it is in HBA's campaign, so we're looking at 4 more days of potential attacks at a percentage of full HP. We make a decision to beat a strategic retreat to the Elven Palace and ask for either a) a healer NPC to accompany us b) a load of potions to use on the go or c) BOTH. Now we haven't yet left the forest, so we still need to see if we can even make it back the two days journey we've already made...
And that's where The Other Campaign(TM) currently stands. I'll post updates on that after our 3rd session. Session 8 of HBA will take some time of course, so stay tuned!

2014-01-01, 08:01 PM

Robynn, The Halfling Rogue: played by My Other Friend From College (computer programmer). This sweet-seeming individual resembles a human child, but is actually a cunning young woman making use of her appearance to better steal things not nailed down. Yes, Robynn is a GIRL (Guy In Real Life). Don't ask me, but the in-game RPing is hilarious. Fights with pellet sling and dagger (later modified short sword).

I am the Other Friend From College who plays Robynn. No seriously. Chaucer85 can confirm. I've been working on my own play log as Robynn, not as often and not as seriously. But if people have interest, I'll post that for others to see. I think all I've got done at the moment is the first play session where we didn't have Dorsid at the table yet and Robynn's past. You can see some of the inner workings of your favorite Halfling Rogue...well, My favorite Halfling Rogue.

2014-01-04, 06:38 PM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 8, "Mission To Berlin" Part 1

Chapter 35, A Reunion And The Road Ahead
The company held a quick meeting that night before an early bedrest, reconvening outside the stables the next morning. We were all very wary of undertaking such an important mission, but especially one in which fighting and exploration were less likely to be necessary. Being out of our respective elements had everyone on edge, so Wen walking up amiably with Coin Purse beside her was a welcome surprise.

“WEN!” Robynn yelled, attempting to tackle the ranger but settling for a sideways bear hug.

Cohen handed me the reins of Blitzen and marched over to offer a welcome handshake.

“Good to finally see you again,” he said.

“You as well. I trust Rhivi didn’t get you all into too much trouble while I was gone?”

“Indeed not. She’s actually beginning to grow on us somewhat.”

I looked over to catch Rhivi squatting near the ground, grabbing handfuls of some fungi growing near a barn. She tasted a few before shoving them into her bag.

“Amongst other things…” I said under my breath.

The rest of the company conversed happily for awhile, and I realized I had been the last to join an already existing party of young adventurers; this was their first reunion after several traumatic weeks. Wen walked back over to me with Cohen who took back his horse and continued making preparations before we were underway.

“And you, priest? I see you’re still alive.”

“Barely, but yes. How did your sojourn against the bandits go?”

Wen shrugged. “I tracked them, I killed them. Not much else to say, really.”

I was somewhat dumbfounded. “Er, that is good, I suppose... But what did you discover?”

“That I can still out-stalk, out-shoot and out-fight any highwayman north of the English border.”

“Erm, yes, but we’ve stumbled upon some new information-”

“We’ll talk more on the way,” We said, cutting me off. “Rhivi mentioned you’d gotten us a job all the way in the extant capital.”

“Yes,” I said, recovering. “Thus why we’re mounting up. But we need to buy you a horse as well.” My head started to swivel, looking for a stable hand who might be convinced to part with a nag for handful of coins.

“No worries, I already picked up one of the spares you’d sold off yesterday.” At this, a guardsman walked up leading another fair horse, tan and cream colored, already saddled and packed. Wen threw one leg over the saddle and gripped the reins, bringing the horse under her control comfortably. “Nabbing horses from bandits and selling them for a profit? You’ve come a long way, Dorsid.” She trotted off to join with Rhivi and catch up on recent events.
“Looks like I’ll have to get my explanations, later, Donner,” I said conspiratorially. The great black steed snorted softly in response.


While traversing the roads north to Berlin, it was apparent that our diplomatic missives had been much more effective than we first realized. The public roads, once largely devoid of travelers, were now heavily filled with traders, merchants and armed riders. Various flags of various houses were being flown, but other than a few wary glances, no one was starting a fight. Perhaps this was progress.

Our ride to the great city went unharassed, and we arrived several days after departing Stuttgart half past mid-morning. The city itself was simply massive, a great sprawl of buildings, winding streets and tiered walkways, all leaning against and across one another. In the center of all this was the ancient castle of Berlin. A keep of old design, protected by curtain walls, all surrounded by an actual moat (though it was largely devoid of water, only having a caked-over riverbed of slime, mud and animal refuse). The newer buildings crept up as close as possible to the castle, and were a person motivated enough, I would think it possible to vault from the rooftops of one to the other.

We wandered through the outer gates of the city along with all the other traffic, meandering down several thoroughfares before finally branching off to a warehouse district where we could board the animals. As we all unloaded our luggage, I quietly passed a few gold coins to Robynn, whose eyebrows poked up at me.

“I’ll take your bags to the tavern,” I said sotto voce. “I want you to break those down into silver and copper pieces, then spread it around to all the beggars, street urchins and barmaids you can find.”

“I’m not much experienced at spreading the gospel, padre.”

“I want to know when things happen, Robynn. Rumor spreads faster than truth. So get us a spy network, like the Lady asked.”

The small thief grinned at me before offering a smart salute and running off, melting into the crowd as only she could.

“Where’s she off to?” Cohen asked.

“To a bar, I suppose,” I said noncommittally.

Cohen clasped his hands together loudly. “Great idea! I could use a drink myself!”

“No,” I said flatly, grabbing his shoulder by a backpack strap and walking firmly towards the nearest tavern my eyes could spot.

“We throw down our bags in a room, then present ourselves to the local lord. We’ll need his help to pull this off.”

“That sounds lovely,” Rhivi interjected. “And I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully, but I’ve had enough of this town already, so if it’s all the same to you, I’ll head back outside and wait for any sign of the arriving nobles. Send Mokaaj’s bird if you need to... Tschüss!”

She too was off into the crowd before I could stop her.

Chapter 36, New Faces, New Wrinkles

The shrill voice of Lord Joachim echoed off the cold walls of his chambers. Our team remained impassive and somber as the poor man raged. His face was long and haggard, not helped by a patchwork beard and balding head. His clothes were obviously inherited, being ill-fitting and somewhat frayed at the edges.

“We are here to help, my lord. The Lady has sent us ahead to act in any capacity required to ensure the safe completion of this conference."

“Then assume the capacity of a BANK!” he piped. “Do you know how many rooms the nobles’ retinues will require? The FEASTS I must host? How long are these wretches even planning on staying?”

I shifted slightly to eye my comrades. This was a helpful piece of information that the Lady had not provided for us. I turned back to Lord Joachim, making an open gesture with my clasped hands.

“I am sure the assembly would not take more than… two weeks,” I said, without any certainty.

“TWO WEEKS!?” the noble screamed.

Eventually, I was able to calm Lord Joachim down, assuring him that the Lady could help make recompense to his needs, and if things went well, the crown of Germany would be able to reinvigorate the city with a new age of prosperity. This seemed to mollify him enough. I stated we would be back the next day to assist with examining the rooms for security weaknesses, and we took our leave.

The sun was just beginning to dip below the rooftops of the outer city. It was obvious the long trip and demanding presence of the Lord had drained most of the company, so it was mutually agreed we would split up for our own errands and meet up the next morning at the castle bridge. As I walked alone amidst the bustling streets, I noticed more than a few robed members of the church making their way in pairs and small groups. Out of curiosity, I followed a handful on their walk, happy to hear them conversing on matters of religious doctrine and good works. It was refreshing after so many months combating against evil and sin with violence to hear the uplifting word of God as the sole tool for salvation.

Presently our stroll took us into the presence of a massive cathedral, featuring a pale green dome and wide entrance fronted by pillars. The discrete signage named this building in homage to Saint Hedwig. The central hall’s ceiling was much more beautiful than any vaulted church I’d had the privilege of setting foot in, and to my surprise, in addition to hallways leading off into additional add-ons, the central floor had stairs descending into what appeared to be a subterranean library. I was just about to descend the staircase when a hand rested upon my shoulder. With the type of silent speed one could expect of professional scholars in a holy site, three clergymen had come up behind me without my notice.

“Excuse me, brother…” said a slight, if severe-looking man.

“Ah,” I said, giving a short bow. “My apologies. I am a visiting cleric of the Order of Saint Gabriel. My name is-”

“Brother Dorsid; yes, we know, Brother.”

I was a bit taken aback, but had to remind myself what I had earlier said to Robynn.

“The Prelate would like a word with you. Immediately.”


Several minutes later my guide had led me into the private chambers of the Archbishop of Berlin, who I soon learned was also the Prelate of Germany. Besides the Pope, this was the highest Church superior I was likely to meet in my lifetime. It was surprising to me then, when the Prelate revealed himself as a slight, little man with a weak chin, pursed, tiny lips, and a large head mostly bereft of hair. He was writing judiciously as I entered and wrote for several more minutes before speaking.

“Not many wandering clerics establish so distinct a reputation so quickly in their service, young brother.” The Prelate spoke in a nasally, if commanding voice. His words were largely flat and without emotion. Perhaps he was testing me.

“I have walked where God has led me, your lordship.”

After staring at me for a few moments, the Prelate folded his hands and straightened his back.

“Quite so. What brings you here, my child?”

“As you know, my lord, I have attached myself to a small company of adventurers. Over the past several months, we have been commissioned as neutral diplomatic couriers of the Lady of Stuttgart.”

“And your actions have resulted in an accord of peace among the warring lords that greatly benefits the lives of the common folk, for which you have my personal thanks.”

I bowed humbly.

“We have come to your home city in service to the Lady for one last mission: to ensure a successful peace conference that will determine a new King of Germany.”

At this, the Prelate steepled his hands in deep contemplation, a far off look entering his eyes. I could see he was considering a great number of elements, far beyond what part of the matter I had been privy too, so I held my tongue until his focus returned to me.

“This is ponderous news, Brother. But I am encouraged by it. I will pray that you are successful in your work. God be with you.”

I nodded my head in thanks, but did not turn to leave. He noticed my rigid stance.

“Is there more?”

“Yes, your lordship. I am afraid in the course of my recent work with Honey Badger Acquisitions, I have discovered some distressing conspiracies.”

“The world is filled with many evils, my son. Often taking the form of mortal plots.”

“Indeed, my lord prelate; but this plot involves the enslavement of children by… The Ring. And we uncovered evidence of... complicit church members.”

At this, the Prelate’s eyes darkened and his mouth pursed even smaller. He laid his writing quill aside and stared daggers at me.

“...Tell me more.”

I recounted the events surrounding our time fighting Eric Sveinhert, his abilities, the Ring tattoos of the men working for him, the underground chamber, and the detailed ledgers and codebook. When I had finished, the Prelate again had a distant look about him, but there was the slightest hint of barely suppressed anger.

“I’m afraid I must cut our meeting short for now, Brother Dorsid. But please return tomorrow when you are finished with your service to Lord Joachim.”

He stood from his desk slowly, and I bowed once again, walking quickly but quietly to the door.

“Be so good as to send in Father Hubert on your way out, would you?” he said in the same flat tone.

I nodded and made my exit. The man who had earlier led me in was close by, named Father Hubert as it turned out, and gave a curt nod in my direction as I told him the Prelate had additional need of him. Without further ceremony, I left the cathedral and zig-zagged back to the street where we had purchased rooms at a well-traveled inn, The Severed Hydra.

I washed and slowly removed my cumbersome armor, rolling and stretching out my joints. I laid out my bedroll upon the provided cot, thankful to not be sleeping on the ground again. Just as I was starting to nod off, the door to the small room opened, allowing noise from downstairs to drift in, then quickly shut, followed by a light padding of feet across the wooden floor.

“...Ruh-bn…” I said into my pillow.

The small thief hopped from the floor to her bed and plopped down with a contented sigh.

“...Padre *hic*...” she said. I rolled over onto my back.

“Out frequenting the bars, I take it?”

“Just as instructed.”

I sighed. “I don’t suppose you’ve anything to show for it, besides a fine bout of inebriation?”

Robynn half-heartedly attempted to suppress a burp before continuing.

“Actually, I have several bits of news.”

“All ears, my friend,” I said, yawning.

“Though fighting has dropped off around central Germany in recent weeks, there are still pitched battles to the west near the Spanish border, and east near the Austro-Italian border.”

I looked over at my roommate. “...So this whole conference might just be a consolidation of military forces against foreign armies.”

Robynn attempted to press her finger to her nose several times before simply nodding.

“Splendid,” I said.

“Also, Rhivi had no sign of heralds with any of the lords' banners arriving today, and she estimates based on distance and road conditions, it’s likely to be at least five to seven days before the nobs start arriving if they started out near when we did.”

“Anything else?”

“Well, Cohen got in a bar fight so bad I heard about it several streets over.”

“Ugh,” I put a hand over my face. “...Tell me what happened.”
Chapter 37, Revelations
“ I was over in the The Fife And Drum nursing an ale the previous owner was too asleep to miss when I heard about it, then went to the scene of the crime later on for more details. Apparently, Cohen went into a known hangout for mercenaries and sellswords, The Goblin’s Nest, looking to recruit more muscle for the company.

‘Honey Badger Acquisitions is hiring new blades and bowmen!’ he said. ‘And any man looking for sacks of gold and fresh blood on his hands is welcome to apply!’

This apparently did not inspire much reaction beyond some pointed looks. Dissatisfied with this, Cohen made his way to a table of cut-up brutes and slammed himself into a free chair.

‘What about you lot?’

‘Honey Badger, eh? Yeah, I’ve heard some tell of ya.’

‘Course you have! We’re known all over Germany!’

‘Yeah, gettin’ your arses jumped left and right by bandits!’

This sent up a fair amount of laughter from the table, which as you might guess did not sit well with our resident fighter.

‘Any man brave enough to face the odds we have can be a rich fellow.’

‘There’s brave and there’s stupid, lad.’

‘Well if I’m stupid, then I’d say you’re a p****.’

As you can manage, this stopped all immediate talking in the vicinity, at which point the insulted man drew a knife. Cohen drew his, and a good ol’ fashioned show of strength and skill began. Things were going alright for Cohen at the start mind you. He was able to grapple the man’s knife out of his hands… and into another man at the table’s chest. About that time I suspect the entire bar was waiting to see if this newcomer could handle himself. All told, Cohen bloodied the noses of three others, before the barkeep stopped the whole place from ripping him apart.

The barman asked for a payment of blutgeld to the aggrieved party, one of whom I heard nearly died. Cohen being Cohen, plunks down about twice what they asked for, again showing how much could be made in our company’s employ. Then he left. ”

I inhaled deeply as Robynn finished. “Did anyone come after him?” I asked finally.

“No. Not for revenge or for a job.”

“...Is there anything else that happened tonight?”

“Not that I care to repeat,” Robynn added with a snicker that developed into a series of chuckles.

“Good.” With that I rolled over and placed my worn bedding over my head.


The next morning I passed Cohen in the inn’s barroom, already up and nursing a beer with breakfast. There were several cuts and bruises on his face, but he waved off any offer of healing, saying he would heal them the slow way. He also bowed out of going back to the castle for the next several days. I bid him farewell and headed out to meet up with the others. Robynn and Mokaaj had already eaten and were waiting for me at the bridge.

“Where’s Wen?” I asked.

“Outside with Rhivi,” Mokaaj said. “One’s taking the south entrance, the other the north.”

Just then, a small child came running up to her and held out her hands, showcasing a glistening thread of spider’s webbing, fresh with morning dew.

“Oh, so good!” Mokaaj said, taking the web and putting it into a small bag. “Thank you, here you are.” She handed the girl a copper piece who ran off smiling.

“I thought your little coin trick with Robynn was such a good idea I sent out some children to gather my more mundane ingredients.”

I cast a look at Robynn who just shrugged her shoulders.

“Well, I suppose as long as you’re paying them there’s no harm. Just don’t let anyone see you casting inside the city. It will take all three of us to start. Let’s get inside.”

Over the next several hours, we spent our time going over the wings of the castle being prepared for the visiting nobles. Robynn checked every wall seam, window, door and lock for weaknesses or problem spots that might allow an assassin to subvert their security. Mokaaj cast her magic senses outward to detect any suspicious auras or malicious castings. Neither found anything. We caught up with Lord Joachim while inspecting the kitchens.

“Why on earth are you searching all of these rooms so closely? My guards would rout any attackers who dared force their way into these halls. And that’s not even counting the guards the others will bring!”

“I’m afraid the situation is… more complicated than that,” I said. “There’s no telling who may or may not be acting against this meeting… even those who are attending…”

“What are you TALKING about?! This is a meeting of the noble houses, not some seedy merchants gathering! And why are you having that disgusting creature wave her hands over everything?! You know the law!”

I cast an appraising look to Mokaaj, who buried any emotional response that might reveal how easily she could immolate the lord with a gesture.

“I assure you, my lord, as a representative of the church, what she is doing is perfectly legal,” I lied.

“Legal? You think that’s my greatest concern?” the man’s beet red face was inches from mine. “Do you have any idea what this is costing me?”

“As I’ve already said, my lord-”

“Yes! Yes! I will be compensated! But all this skullduggery is causing an appalling rumormill to throw suspicion on my place as lord of the city! I don’t care who might stab who, I care about my kingdom!”

“Your kingdom might already be under attack from radical zealots, sir! Control yourself!”

My outburst shocked everyone into stillness, and I had to remind myself again the consequences of revealing the truth to those not ready to hear it.

“What… what does that mean, priest? You tell me right now what you’re keeping from me!”

So I told Lord Joachim. The Ring. The evil spellcasters aligned with them. Somewhere around the vivid details of the summoned demonic creatures he shrieked in terror and fled the room.

“Well…” Robynn said. “At least he won’t be getting in our way again.”


We broke from our duties at the castle for the day. Mokaaj would have an update from Wen by the next morning, and Robynn had some other business to attend to. I made my way back to Saint Hedwig’s. Not surprisingly, the instant I was through the door, Father Hubert appeared within my field of vision.

“Welcome back, Brother Dorsid. Please follow me.”

This time the Prelate’s chambers were filled with several more officials and even armed clerics like myself, though much older and far more battle scarred. Various books and maps were strewn about the desks, and some of them I recognized as directories of chapels and staff rosters.

“Ah, Brother Dorsid…”

The Prelate’s voice threw everyone’s attention briefly on me before he dismissed several orderlies with sealed parchments in their hands. The Prelate beckoned me forward and I kneeled in supplication. It seemed appropriate to follow protocol as Brother Ezekial advised, given how many higher-ranking clergy surrounded us.

“Following your account, I have organized a cleansing of our houses, so that we might root out the infection which threatens our charges. Brother Jerome is spearheading this.”

The Prelate indicated a particular towering, bearded cleric who stepped forward and nodded.

“My thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’ve been in the wild for months, so swiping these miserable curs from our ranks will be a welcome grace.”

I nodded in return and Brother Jerome exited with several others.

“In addition, your report of the alliance between the slavers and dark arts wielders has brought up some significant questions. I have authorized Father Hubert to allow you access to our considerable libraries so that you might better research our rising enemy.”

“Thank you, your lordship. I hope I can be of more use to Holy Mother Church.”

“I’m sure you will, my child. We will speak again.”

Father Hubert walked with me down the central spiral staircases I had noticed upon my first visit. The entire trip down afforded me a view of rows and rows of volumes and scrolls, far exceeding what I had access to at the abbey.

“Impressive, isn’t it, Brother?” Hubert said.

“Very,” I said. “How long has this repository existed?”

“Trade secret, I’m afraid,” he said with a small amount of sarcasm. “But I can tell you some of the records you’ll have access to date from before the Dark Times.”

Father Hubert led me to a small table where several oil lamps were already lit, and a pile of materials laid aside.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to insist on one of our librarian assistants chaperoning your visits. The materials here are too valuable to allow any abuse or theft.”

A young scribe appeared from some shadowed corner and bowed respectfully.

“I understand. Thank you.”

I took off my helm and gauntlets, resting them on the table; unclasped my cloak and set it upon the chair. The scribe looked at my battered armor with a suppressed excitement.



“What… what is it like in the wild? Fighting the legions of hell?”

I pondered what I had seen so far and what was likely to come, weighing it against my time as a humble researcher like the young boy before me.

“...I preferred the library.”

For hours into the night I pored over ancient volumes, rubbing at my tired eyes as my assistant shifted the books with velvet gloved hands, and turned decrepit pages for me with special tools. The various histories began to blend together as I sifted through each account of family and country, looking for details about the followers of Loth. Slowly, a greater picture began to grow.

Loth was envisioned as a Spider Queen, a goddess of war and chaos, known for her webs of intrigue. Numerous conspiracies and plots were traced back to one or more persons with some light connection to the Spider Queen. Her evil was insidious and persistent. Her disciples were similarly unrelenting, if fragmented and effervescent. Just as some great action was coming to fruition, it’s planners would evaporate in the ensuing anarchy and destruction. Whatever these Disciples of Loth’s intentions, they were surely against the formal alliance of all royal houses of Germany.

It was in the waxing of the morning hours, after the library assistant had fallen asleep sitting up, my eyes came across an intriguing series of charts and maps. They were dated outside the known calender, easily predating the Dark Times, but they had allusions to the existing nations of the world. There were the Dwarves and Englishmen, here the Elves and Germans, and there the Spaniards and Goblins.

But there was a puzzling feature I could not discern. I found a more recent map and lay it beside the one I was translating. The regions and languages spoken there seemed correct, but the locations were wrong. Both maps had thriving continents and an expansive Great Sea, but the older map spoke of distant colonies, not newly formed as in the New World, but established for generations. More confusing was the placement of various famous cities against geographic landmarks. The landmass sizes were all wrong, the rivers and mountains completely out of place. It was as if… the world as we knew it, were merely the extended colonies of old, and the new world, our lost homelands.

The assistant woke with a snort as Father Hubert came stamping down the stairs.

“Time for you to be getting on, Brother. The sun will be up soon, and you’ve still your work at the castle to complete.”

“Yes, yes,” I said. “I should try and get some rest. Thank you.”

I quickly gathered my belongings while the assistant put away the old maps and texts.

“Did you find anything illuminating?” Father Hubert asked.

I watched as the assistant replaced the old and forgotten maps on some unnoticeable shelf.

“Yes, brother. Yes, I believe I have.”
Chapter 38, The Matter of Germany
The days passed quickly and we all busied ourselves in advance of the approaching conference. Wen scouted the ramparts of the castle, Cohen sought out others to join us in guarding the nobles (unsuccessfully), Rhivi continued her lookout, while Robynn, Mokaaj and I continued to judge the securities of the castle. One day we were stopped in a nondescript hallway not far from the main dining hall.

“Ugh, this work is exhausting,” I said. “So many rooms and towers, I feel like we’re going in circles!” It wasn’t just the reconnaissance that was bothering me. I’d returned every evening after working in the castle to continue my research in the cathedral’s extensive libraries. I was not sleeping much as a result.

“I have to agree,” Mokaaj said. “I’ve had a particularly bad headache these past few days, wandering this section of the castle.” She massaged her right temple.

“Me eyeballs hurt from looking in so many keyholes,” Robynn agreed, rubbing her eyes furiously.

“Let’s just recap and see if there’s anyplace left we haven’t covered.”

We all stood silently for a few moments, trying to organize the castle into its constituent parts and make sense of it in our mental maps; but it all just continued to flow together, bending walls and towers into each other, making it difficult to think.

“I say we’ve done enough,” Robynn said finally. “Aside from a few cubby holes and maybe an old hidden passage for smuggling goods, there’s probably nothing left to find. Let’s pack it in and wait for the nobs to arrive. Hopefully soon.” We all agreed and left straightaway, though the hallway continued to plague us with misdirection for another half-hour, until finally we made our way to an outer hall.

Later that night, having collapsed into my bed after another marathon session of intense study, I was woken by Robynn stomping into the room once again. This time her arms were filled with a dark purple fabric, bulging with some odd shapes.

“Robynn… what?”

The thief let the fabric open and a half dozen or so raw potatoes spilled to the floor.

“Huh Dersud, yuh hungrr?” Robynn said, another potato clenched in her teeth.

“No… what?.... Where did you get those?”

There was a brief pause as she thought about this and removed the potato from her mouth. “Do you really want to know?” she said.

I sighed. “...No. I guess not.” I rolled over to fall back asleep.

“It really wasn’t my fault,” I heard Robynn continue. “The guard was drunk off his ass, I mean he stared right at me and never even noticed I was there, then I had to duck and hide from some workers, and so of course, there’s all these potatoes in the barrels, and they’re for the royal banquets anyways, and we’re working for one of the attendees, so I thought ‘hey, why not?’ but then I found this nice silk, a whole bolt of it, and there was so much who would miss a little bit for me, and maybe I’ll make some pajamas or thermal underwear or-”

Thanks be to God, the Lady arrived with her retinue from Stuttgart within the next day, quickly followed by the other Lords. The meetings would finally begin. We were all equally nervous and excited. It was somewhat of a surprise for me when the Lady requested I stand in on the meetings as her personal aide, but I agreed without hesitation.

Over the next week, during hours of long-winded introductions, airing of old grievances, jesting insults, bloodthirsty war declarations, and triple-sided verbal maneuvering, I learned more about the histories and lineages of the German houses of nobility than I ever wished. By the end of the sixth day, I was amazed to discover I was even more fatigued than before the nobles had arrived. I ached for the brief, peaceful embrace of sleep, but was halted this evening by the sudden appearance of several brother clerics, telling me the Prelate demanded my presence.


“The meetings do not appear to be going well, Brother Dorsid,” the Prelate said as I stood before him. I was swaying somewhat, having been on my feet for nearly 12 hours at this point.

“The negotiations are somewhat… stalled, yes, your grace.”

“They were stalled when first the old king died. I had hoped, since you had already engaged all of these figures in joining at one table again, you might help them see the light towards unifying under one banner.”

“Forgive me, sire, for I am only one man, a humble servant of the church. Who am I to bend the wills of these men and women?”

The Prelate inhaled with some exasperation and cracked his hands loudly.

“...Do you not think…” he began again. “That the church has some interest in who might next be King of Germany?”

“Uh… of course, your lordship… But… I am not sure…”

“If I may be so bold, young brother, I would volunteer my own services of counsel in this matter, if you would be so good as to secure me an invitation from the assembled council.”

“Er, yes. Yes, sire,” I bowed swiftly and deeply. “I shall do that at once.”

The next day, the Prelate was being welcomed into the previously closed chambers of the council by the Lady of Stuttgart.

“Archbishop Lichtenberg, such a pleasure,” the Lady held his hands and kissed them in turn. “I hope you can help bring about some sense of order and reason to these proceedings.”

The Prelate gave a knowing smile. “I shall try, my child. I shall try.”

By that very evening, the Prelate had convinced the council to rally around one noble lord as the rightful future king of Germany, to be anointed the day after next, with merely a celebratory feast as the next day’s business. When I informed the rest of the company, they were practically ecstatic. Half because the tedium was finally over, half because we would soon be getting paid.

When our company next gathered, it was amidst all the wealth and finery of Germany thrown into one great banquet hall. Five rectangular tables encircled a roaring hearth, one for each noble house, save the Lady seated with the future king. Four circular tables were in each corner, seating various advisors, relatives and lesser vassals. The hall was roughly square and high-ceilinged, with two exits to a hallway to the East, a hallway going further into castle to the West, and an entrance to the kitchen and pantries to the North.

The majority of our company had taken up various positions around the room, save for Rhivi and Mokaaj in the kitchen with Wolfie, brandishing our armor and weapons to the amusement of the assemblage. Numerous ladies-in-waiting enjoyed seeing Cohen flex his muscles or Robynn perform flips, but I refused several requests to perform magic for the drunken patrons. Eventually the Lady called me aside.

“Lighten up, sir priest. This is a celebration. You’ve done a great service for our people.”

“Thank you, my Lady. But our work is not done until all the nobles leave after the coronation.”

She was just about to respond when I tensed and held a hand to my brow, feeling the same greasy, sickening tingle as the fight with Sveinhert and his comrades in the forests outside Stuttgart. Our corner of the hall went unnaturally dim, as if the nearby candles had been snuffed. While hard to make out faces, one could still see if focused. Then the door to the West flung open, and dark clad men with short swords began flooding into the room.
- As predicted, Wen's sudden reappearance had little RP reasoning; she was gone, she's back, she wants to fight something for money :smallbiggrin:
- Yeah, this session had A LOT happen. We crammed a lot into one day's gaming. The first half, with the week's worth of game time in Berlin, featured several concurrent solo adventures I teased out into the story, but the DM elected we speed up things when player actions slowed down, jumping forward several times.
- It had actually NOT occurred to me the Prelate would want to step in and direct the course of the coronation. Mostly because my perspective would've been "kings rise and fall, the church is eternal," but obviously the character is far more pragmatic than a young cleric. (Also the DM knows when to use an NPC to jumpstart things.)
- Interestingly enough, the DM said that no one in previous games had ever interacted with the German Prelate in prior campaigns. He also hadn't given him a name, despite his potential for future influence in-game I won't spoil right now, and so I went searching for "notable German archbishops" and was pleased to learn about the Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernhard_Lichtenberg), truly a remarkable and honorable figure. So I got to name that character for going forward :smallsmile:
- The Big Reveal of the world's confusing geography so far: the New World is the Old World, and the Old World is the New World. Yeah, it's a bit confusing for the players as well. Basically, the Thames we've been referring to is actually the Mississippi. All of these countries aren't in Europe, but North America (the Southeastern United States by our reckoning). It's just we don't know that in-game. The DM basically said, with all the nights Dorsid was spending at the library, he would eventually learn this, and so all the players know this, but only Dorsid would be aware of it for now (and he's not telling anyone). But it certainly changes plans for an eventual trip to the New Old World :smalltongue:
- We leveled up at the end of the session, to level 5, and I hoped to bulk up my Diplomacy for all the future encounters I could imagine were coming, so I announced a week's worth of nobility bickering at each other was warrant enough for 5 ranks in Knowledge (Nobility & Royalty) if only for the synergy bonus. We'll probably see some more nobles and the like later on.
- It occurs to me I haven't yet defined the domains of my character: Knowledge and Magic. Yes, yes, not too great for anyone not playing a Cloistered Cleric class, and I'll likely roll up a War/Destruction cleric if ever I must say goodbye to Brother Dorsid, but for now, it fits pretty well with the character, and there's enough flexibility there.
Stay tuned for Part 2, the big fight to end the story arc!

2014-01-04, 09:31 PM
Yay! New update!

I wish I had the patience (and skill) to write a journal in character like this :smallsmile:

2014-01-04, 10:33 PM
Believe me, I look upon all the other campaign journals (yours included) with a great deal of jealousy. It was far easier to sum up The Other Campaign since I'd never intended to story-ise that one. But I set out to make a narrative out of Honey Badger Acquisitions, so I'm committed now. Doesn't mean my patience doesn't wear thin with it :smallbiggrin:

I struggle each time I stop making stuff up to start again and get something moderately cohesive out of it. But it can be very satisfying once it goes live and people can enjoy it. We certainly had a blast playing it.

Another reason I take so long with doing this in such detail is because the campaign is so recent and without much having happened (compared to the other long runners). So it helps spread things out :smalltongue:

I do hope we go several years on this campaign, given how much potential stuff is in the world, but for now I'm just trying to get this great community caught up on the amusing happenings of our little group so far.

2014-01-04, 10:41 PM
I am the Other Friend From College who plays Robynn. No seriously. Chaucer85 can confirm. I've been working on my own play log as Robynn, not as often and not as seriously. But if people have interest, I'll post that for others to see. I think all I've got done at the moment is the first play session where we didn't have Dorsid at the table yet and Robynn's past. You can see some of the inner workings of your favorite Halfling Rogue...well, My favorite Halfling Rogue.

I have no idea who this person is :smallbiggrin:

Kudos go out to rftexas not only for Robynn, but also the fun we've had with Champions of Alleheim as well. Whenever our schedules can re-align, we're back to that, and I'm expecting some sick $#!% to go down. Very excited.

Astral Avenger
2014-01-04, 11:22 PM
Awesome update, sounds like solid excrement is about to hit a rotating blade designed to propel air. I'm going to guess that the elusive followers of Loth are objecting to a unified germany.... With swords.

2014-01-05, 02:41 AM
Interesting little update, especially with the flipped geography.

A question regarding the world: do the non-humans simply live in the same general area as the countries that they seem to be based in, or do any have any national ties?

2014-01-05, 12:10 PM
In all honesty, other races mixed in with the humans get little mention. The DM led us to the dwarves, and there was mention of some elves at that tavern just across the German border. Other than that, no NPCs have ever been called out as being anything but human. So far, most of the non-humans live within England in specific counties, fairly segregated from the rest of the world. If we went looking elsewhere they might turn up, but they seem a slight minority.

Also, we've never seen any mention of halflings, so of course, everyone assumes Robynn is a human child (with unnaturally hairy, big feet?). The Goblins seem just about wiped out on this continent, but are likely still somewhere in the Old World.

EDIT: If I had to guess, I'd say the Magic War did a real number on the other races, explaining why humans seem to outnumber them so much.

2014-01-08, 05:40 PM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 8, "Mission To Berlin" Part 2

Chapter 39, Night Of A Thousand Ninjas
“Everyone remain calm!” I tried to shout, but my voice was drowned out by the screams of panicking courtiers. The tables quickly emptied as a crush formed on the Eastern side of the hall, trying to exit through the two doors there. A handful of our attackers followed them, slicing wildly at the crowd, but as the entire room flowed towards the doors, Wen and Cohen advanced to begin repelling them from the stragglers.

I stood tall and allowed my shield and mace to fall into my grip, ready to hold back as many of the sword wielders as possible. Surprisingly, the future king also stood his ground, unsheathing a sword and engaging the assassins now surrounding him.

“Your grace!” I called, “Get beneath the table!”

“Nein,” he said calmly, and began parrying repeated attacks.

The flow of men from the hallway did not abate, and I feared we would soon be grossly outnumbered before reinforcements could arrive.


“We’re stuck until these fools get out of our way!” the druid called back amidst screams of terror. I could hear Wolfie growling in frenzied desperation.

I was trying to formulate a plan, but having five swift attackers in light clothing all stabbing at me with swords was taking enough of my concentration.

“We have to do something!” Cohen yelled. “Stop them coming in!”

“I have an idea!” Mokaaj answered back. "Araneaĵo.”

A bright ball of white light went soaring from the kitchen, past our growing melee, and into the crowded hall, eliciting a series of angered shouts and curses. From what little I could see, the hallway had filled with an abundance of giant, thick spider-webs, effectively stopping the invaders in their tracks.

Most of the assassins’ attacks were glancing off of my armor and shield, often clumsily into their nearby comrades, but a few found their mark and I felt a familiar, burning sting. “Careful! Their weapons are poisoned!”

“Ack! Yes, I’ve noticed!” Cohen called out.

“*hup* Typical ninjas! *hut* Carrying poisonous weapons they’re just awful with!” I turned briefly to spot Robynn on the far side of the hall and noticed she had attracted two of the dark clad fiends herself, but was handily leaping over and between them, alternating her leaps with stabs at their hindquarters and ribs. Eventually a third attacker joined them and she fled beneath a table, still continuing to stab at their feet.

“How about a little fire to light this drab place up?” Rhivi called out. With that, another of her rolling spheres of fire came tumbling through the assembled ninjas, lighting several ablaze. Mokaaj could be heard chanting as well, and several orbs of arcane energy came hurtling through the air, zapping unwary fighters as if they were angry bees protecting a hive.

With each spared blow, I looked around the hall and marveled at how through a combination of luck, strength, and mystical guile, we had managed to allow the majority of the nobles to escape and keep the fighting contained to our advantage.

“I think we have a chance, your grace!” I called to my erstwhile sparring companion, who while scratched and bloodied was still standing.

“Wonderful,” he spat, sinking his blade into a ninja after deflecting a strike to his flank.

“We just need to keep them contained until the outside guards arrive!”

Before the words had left my mouth, a strange noise sounded from the hallway, akin to a pile of dried leaves being ignited, followed by screams of pain. As more men flowed into the room, I noted by their singed clothing that they had elected to set fire to the webbing (and themselves) rather than fail in their attack.

“They’re through the hallway!” I cried.

“What else could go wrong?” Cohen shouted back.

Another strange sensation poured over me, my ears again feeling the pop of a magical field dying, and the shadows engulfing myself and the king lifted… as well as Rhivi’s ball of fire being extinguished. Behind the fresh wave of burned and angered assassins was a trio of Loth Disciples, wearing the same fierce armor and carrying the same thorny maces we’d seen in the forest. Their mutual look was one of murderous insanity.

“Our brothers failed in the woods…” One said in a hoarse voice. “But we will not. Kill them all!” And with a gesture my muscles locked and I was frozen in place, helpless.
Chapter 40, The Last Banquet
With the final press of poisoned swords and malevolent casters into the hall, I could see how ill-prepared we were before undertaking this mission. Even not counting the attackers’ dead so far, they easily outnumbered us three, maybe four to one. The casters split up and moved beyond my vision, I assumed to take on the other members of the company. My eyes swiveled to take in the field as I had been instructed years before, but my body continued to disobey my commands. As I grappled with the dark magic holding me prisoner, I heard Rhivi’s voice cry out from the nearby kitchens.

“Now, my friend! Take them apart!”

A bestial howl and swift movement of air told me that Wolfie had finally been unleashed against the invaders. Rhivi and Mokaaj were quick on his heels, the elf throwing out what power she had left, while Rhivi unsheathed her wicked blade and began hacking into ninjas left and right, cutting off at the knees one who had lept behind me onto the table. Amidst the chaos I stood frozen, still being stabbed at by the fumbling assassins. Several of them had already fallen to their own poisonous blades, or the opposing attacks of my comrades. As the Disciples of Loth moved their focus to magically attack our marksman, I took my chance to push back against the weight of the spell holding me, reciting the litanies of strength and conviction I was taught, until mobility was returned to me.

I hurried to aid Rhivi and the Lord in cutting down the remaining swordsmen, but saw they had begun to congregate around Cohen. A dark cleric was bolstering the forces surrounding him, and I could see the fatigue Cohen was fighting back. I watched with horror as the warrior’s mace flew from his grip, ricocheting off a wall. Cohen hunched behind his shield and tried to force his way out of the melee, through the nearest dark cleric, but was rebuffed and sent sprawling onto the ground.

Just as several opponents took the chance to attack, Wolfie leapt into the fray and began ripping into all of them at once, giving Cohen time to regain his feet. Wen aided Robynn in overcoming the straggling ninjas, and the two of them converged together on the cleric fighting Cohen. As he fell from one last blast from Mokaaj, the two remaining clerics turned and fled back through the hallway door.

Myself and the Lord finally rested as Rhivi coup-de-graced the few remaining ninjas. From behind us came the clatter of armor and weapons down the Eastern hallway. The Prelate was leading the charge of a full platoon of castle guards, clerics and some nobles who had regained their courage with numbers. They all stopped short at the sight of the carnage now spread around the hall. All told, twenty-two ninja assassins were spread around the room, burned and mutilated; one dark cleric of Loth lay near Cohen and Wen’s feet, pincushioned by arrows and with a gaping hole in his chest. And those poor souls who were unable to escape the killers, or worse, were trampled in the crowd. In a far corner I noticed the Lady of Stuttgart crying inconsolably over the body of a young girl I later learned was her daughter.

“Dorsid,” Cohen said, spitting out some blood. “We have to go…” He nodded towards the hallway where the dark clerics had fled.

I nodded and focused myself. A whispered prayer expended all my divine magic to replenish my allies for whatever we might face ahead. When this was done I turned to the Prelate.

“Your grace, my company must head after the perpetrators of this attack, please see to this man’s wounds.” I indicated the anointed king of Germany, bloodied and messy as he was.

The Prelate nodded and began directing men around the room. As I passed by the Lord, he held out a hand to stop me.

“You stood your ground rather than run, priest.”

“So did you, my lord. But we are paid to fight. You are not.”

“It is to be my kingdom. What king deserts his people when they are attacked?”

“Of course, your highness. I… I am sorry, I know we’ve met previously, but I do not recall your name.”

“Frederick,” he said and turned to walk over to the Prelate.

Cohen clapped my shoulder and we began to run at a fair pace to catch up to our quarry.

Chapter 41, The Wizard's Tower
At the end of the hallway, the path bifurcated into two directions, but just as we prepared to split up, Mokaaj held her temples and asked for us to look straight ahead. The solid stone wall began to shimmer and bubble, eventually settling into the image of a wooden door.

“Has that always been here?” Cohen asked.

“We… never noticed it before,” Robynn said.

“It was masked, by strong illusion,” Mokaaj said, waving her hand around the door. “Anytime we passed near it, our minds were made to wander so as not to notice it.”

“Well we’ve noticed it now…” Cohen said before bodily smashing the door in.

The door led into a small chamber at the bottom of a circular staircase winding it’s way up the outer wall of a tower several stories tall. We heard, distantly, footsteps and a door being shut, but then very little. Our company arranged itself into a strong line to advance up, searching every floor that ended in a door to an unused room. The tower itself seemed to be largely abandoned, with a fair amount of dust and cobwebs throughout. When finally we reached the highest level, we all braced for a dramatic confrontation. Robynn went to pick the lock but found it unresisting. With a loud bellow, Cohen threw open the door to face… nothing.

The room was packed floor to ceiling with bookshelves and work tables, with various strange tools and implements, alchemy beakers and the like.

“It’s a wizard’s tower…” Mokaaj said. “Untouched for ages.”

“The old spellcaster of the castle must’ve died when the cataclysm hit,” I said. “And with magic being outlawed, they probably had it officially sealed off. Nobody’s used it since.”

“Someone has,” Wen said.

We all suddenly remembered the illusioned door and that this was the only remaining holdout for the clerics to have escaped to; immediately our weapons were raised in defense of a dozen imagined enemies surrounding us. Mokaaj once again extended her magic senses before she acknowledged there were no further illusions and no hidden denizens lying in wait. There was, however, a large and magical mirror.

The mirror was easily the size of an average door, with its metallic frame made of some silvery, untarnished material. The aura surrounding it was not decipherable to Mokaaj or myself, but given the recent invasion of the castle and flawless retreat, we had an easy guess that it functioned as a two-way portal.

“The question is, what do we do with it?” Wen said, lowering her bow, but keeping an arrow notched.

“...Mokaaj? Could you bind it closed?” I asked.

“Not for very long. The spellcraft behind this is well beyond my abilities.”

“It doesn’t need to be permanent. Just long enough for us to take it down to the dungeons.”

“The dungeons?” Robynn said. “Padre, you can’t arrest a piece of furniture.”

“I want to move it down there in case anyone else comes back through. Catch any more of these Disciples of Loth in an easy cage.”

“I say we destroy it,” Cohen said firmly.

“Wha-WHAT?” I gasped. “You can’t do that!”

“Sure you can. Take it out to the battlements and pitch it over the side. Moat would shatter the thing nicely.”

“...Or cause it to explode in a fireball of eldritch forces!” I screeched. “You have no idea what could happen!”

“I know nobody can step out of a thousand pieces of magical glass.”

“Absolutely not!”

“Let’s put it to a vote… Show of hands?”

And one by one, the entire company raised an arm, voting to destroy it.

“This is a highly valuable magical artifact! Probably dating to before the Dark Times! Who even knows how rare it is?!”

“And it’s about to get a lot rarer.”

Cohen moved to tip over the mirror and had Wen and Robynn help him.

“Come on, priest. You and I are the strongest.”

With a heavy sigh, I lifted the opposite end of the mirror and walked it slowly to the single door back down the stairs.

“Just a short trip down and around the corner,” Cohen said with a smile.

In actuality, it was a grueling bit of work to carry the mirror down the stairs, nearly dropping it once or twice. Finally, we were able to take it into the dawning morning light and leverage it up and over the side of the castle. Its cumbersome mass fell swiftly before landing flat in the dried moat, and for a moment, it seemed it would simply shatter and lay to rest in view of the entire city. But a split second after the glass surface cracked, a great thunderous peal cut through the air, and an eruption of purple sparks shot up out of the moat bed, showering the castle and surrounding buildings with all manner of disgusting refuse. Nothing remained of the mirror but a smoking crater.

I slowly turned away from the sight and glared at Cohen.

“Well,” Cohen said, a look of complete innocence across his face. “That could’ve been worse...”

Several days of rest, recovery and severe scrubbing later, we returned to Berlin’s castle to be awarded official commendations from the assembled Lords of Germany for our actions in seeing the conference safely concluded. Though there was still lingering squabbles to be settled, a figurehead had been chosen. The affair was largely somber, owing to the deaths suffered from the attack, but Lord Frederick was sure to thank us each individually and reward us an additional bounty of precious jewels from his treasury. I tried to be happy for myself and my friends and all we’d accomplished, but there were so many questions still nagging my mind.

Where had these clerics come from and where did they derive their power? Who else was aiding them besides the Ring? Was the Church, already so fragile from within, truly safe from corruption? What person or persons were feeding our enemies information on our diplomatic mission? Was there more for us to do in Germany and England, or did our destiny lie across the Great Sea, in a lost homeland? Would I even survive such a perilous trek?
- I asked the table just as the DM started dropping down cardboard enemy markers, "Is nobody going to do it? Seriously? Alright..." And then put this (http://youtu.be/cN9jTnxv0RU?t=55s) on my phone.
- For those who don't recognize the strange title, Chapter 39 is a reference to The Tick.
- The DM just really had poor luck with his attack rolls, so the ninjas (and yes, the DM called them ninjas) kept fumbling and stabbing one another by mistake, hastening their own ends. The running joke during the end of session became that the ninjas attacking us were not so much actual trained assassins of the shadows, but low wage mooks handed out poisoned weapons and black pajamas. I'd have to guess they didn't have "Use Poison" unlocked as class abilities yet.
- I have to give credit to all of the other campaign journal authors who are keeping track of rolls and outcomes in their notes. That level of detail leaves me once we're done for the session of the day, but it might be helpful whenever I'm trying to recall the interesting high points of our combat rounds. Course, then I'd be obsessed with including everything, and then you'd never see updates.
- A German king named Frederick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_the_Great)? I'm sure that's nobody important. (But seriously, fighting side-by-side with the King of Germany remains one of my D&D high points.)
- There wasn't officially any illusion hiding the Wizard's Tower, the DM just said we never properly looked for it. There was some debate over this at the table, of course.
- I really wanted my plan for the mirror to work, but when you vote democratically, impassioned pleas are all you can do. (We're still a fresh enough team we try and get along and work together:smallbiggrin:)
- So, this is unofficially the end of our first major quest line (plus a few side missions here and there.) Obviously lots of dangling plot threads remain, but just about everyone seems to be wanting to drop Germany and head for the New Old World:smalltongue: There are still a few things I want to try and do in Berlin before we set out, which might be played in a small solo side quest, I don't know. But the DM has offered opportunities for that in the past.

We have our first session of the new year scheduled for this weekend, so I'll have a summary of the next installment of The Other Campaign up hopefully Sunday night.

What are some thoughts and feelings going forward? I can tell you, I both enjoy and despise reading my own stuff (sometimes synonyms fail you, and you just type assassin six times in a row; also, notice how often I fall to alliteration? I'm an alliteration addict. See?!), so I appreciate getting feedback from others. Leave a comment if you've been reading this from the beginning or you've just decided to check in.

2014-01-09, 10:17 AM
Wow. When you guys step into a conspiracy, you don't pick a piddly one, do you?

I think it's a wise choice to go to the New World too. Your patron's daughter just died because you didn't get sufficient security (ignoring whether or not it would have been possible to). Even though you saved the King, fulfilled her goals, and brought peace to the land, it's probably best to be far away from Baroness Stuttgart at the moment.

2014-01-09, 12:32 PM
Oh yeah, we are in a giant fuster of cluck for sure. You gotta love Narrative Causality having a handful of young, inexperienced nobodies suddenly ruining so many people's plans.

There's no telling if King Frederick was behind it all, or Lord Guderian, or the Lady herself, or Prelate Lichtenberg, or some other person still in the shadows, or a combo of them all. But we've kicked over some bad hornet's nests for sure. I'm so excited :smallbiggrin: Our biggest worry to leaving the Old New World is the ship sinking as a plot point, shipwrecking us on shore without our gear. But it would be a steamship, not sail, so maybe our odds aren't terrible.

I've actually debated whether my Level 6 feat should be Leadership (so we can start getting some cohort backup) or another rank of Toughness (to have a better chance at surviving, since the DM allowed it to add +3 to HP at each level up). And I still need to ask him about the prevalence of magical items in the setting, to see if I should invest in crafting our own metamagic rods, or just take the feats for myself.

EDIT: Most likely taking Toughness again and skipping Leadership altogether.

2014-01-12, 12:42 AM
Thanks for writing these awesome journals, keep up the good work.

2014-01-12, 02:16 AM
The Other Campaign(TM) Part 4: What Happened in Session 3
Whew, just got done earlier tonight, and we really screamed through this one after not playing in so long. Usually we keep these things tight, to around 5 hours, but this ran longer, closer to the 8-10+ most of the hardcore crowd might be familiar with :smalltongue:

So, luck was on our side, and we made it back to the Elven Palace. I had hoped to buy some Masterwork Artisan Tools to up my burgeoning armorsmithing, but no dice. The Elves are a little busy fighting against the darkness, arming everyone they can, so those tools aren't for outsiders to walk off with (fair play to the DM for a good reason; kinda felt like a video game, where you can't buy from a vendor 'til after you clear out the local missions).

Pricing out potions, they're 60% over-market, and we're still dealing with low level of funds, so that's not as feasible for us as getting an NPC healbot. The ODM from HBA offers to switch out his fighter for a cleric, but instead the King (re:DM) offers up "Clark the Cleric" an Elvish NPC our level (but behind in XP) for the ODM to play, along with his Fighter and Rogue. The ODM is swiftest in rolling up a character, so he stats it out real nice so we've got the utmost utility.

While all this was being done, Wolf/Cohen's player starts asking the DM if there are "women of ill repute" to be had in the palace of the Elves. Technically he starts with "prostitutes" and when the rolls come up in the negative, he goes down a laundry list of alternative names before striking a positive.

Me: Do they have "elvish crotch rot"?
DM: *rolls* ...Yes.
Me: [laughing] Is it curable?
DM: *rolls* ...It is not.
Me: Well... it probably has a better name in their tongue.
DM: [amused by this conversation] *rolls* It has a s#!%%y name.

This goes on for several minutes until we're ready to head our party back into the woods. This time we make it three days it to the 3rd morning before being attacked by more Misshapen (larger swarm this time). Clark buffs, everybody spreads out and handles their best areas; still, my guy Graster gets hammered bad when he aggroes too many at once, eventually getting knocked unconscious. Izera the Psion levitates him out of the melee, Clark zaps him back into positives with a "get up, lazy" and we clean up the rest. We travel another 8 hours. Clark and Sumac the druid get us all back to full that night and the next morning.

That morning we're attacked again, more Huge class Misshapen this time (technically easier to hit with the size diff, but more HP). This time our only near-death is Sumac's wolf. We rest another 8 hours, and are lucky not to be harassed over the next several days.

Upon reaching the Sage's tower, a watchtower left over from the Mage Wars a thousand years past, we see the surrounding clearing is a perfect 50 foot radius around the tower, with the bordering trees looking much more healthy and the formerly permanent twilight being pierced by sunlight. The whole thing screams "enchanted locale." The tower itself looks like a solid piece of rock rising from the ground, no windows or doors up its entire structure, save for the roof which has evidence of a parapet and area for surveillance.

Ted searches the entire base of the tower and uncovers a secret, stone door on the side opposite our party's entrance. From here, I bellow an introduction to the unseen sage, who opens the door to reveal a pleasant, elder elf who offers his greetings and invites us in for tea.

The interior is stacked floor to ceiling (all 150 feet!) with bookshelves. There's a cluttered center table with a single tea cup and scone. After smelling the stink of inter-planar foulness upon us, the Sage asks us "what have you done?" I tell him of the preceding events concerning the ritualists, meta-demon and Misshapen. This initiates the longest infodump/RP-ed dialogue prompt conversation I've ever experienced.

The Meta-Demon: actually named (or known as) the Demon Prince, one of the Neverborn, a race of beings made by the Old Magic and existing in their thousands in other planes. Though they at one time lived in our plane and later migrated elsewhere, some, like said Demon Prince, grew craven for the mortal/material plane and sought to conquer it. Ages ago he was banished because of this. Now that he's returned, he'll have to be sealed away again.

The Ritual: the records of the last imprisonment ritual are hidden in the Old Palace of Imervauld's Armory. Terrible things lurk there, and the place itself is very confusing and mysterious, mean it'll be a helluva tricky dungeon (and my mind was swimming with memories of Blue Moon Rising's Armory/East Wing). BUT... there will be weapons and armor for us to acquire there as well. So the Sage gives us each a pair of scrolls to disenchant some magical defenses to get at all this good stuff. And directions on our map to find the Old Palace, about 7-8 days travel.

Here things kind of went off the rails as all five players starting asking if the Sage had one helpful thing or another to also give us, rings, tomes, spell scrolls, bags of holding, enchanted weapons, leaving his hermit tower to accompany us, etc. As Wolf/Cohen establishes while we take a break, the Sage and King of Imervauld have a means of telepathic communication (he knew we were coming), and we will likely need to bring back what records we find in the Armory, as we would be unable to read the forgotten language. In our absence the Sage will begin "the Working" to cast back the Demon Prince.

Graciously, and not without some prodding by the ODM, the DM makes a few discreet rolls and announces how many enemies we defeat between now and our arrival at the Old Palace (67 assorted Misshapen). There are actually less and less as we head away from the Western mountains, and the trees are recovering. However, the longer we take, the worse off the Elvish kingdom (and by extension, Alleheim) will be... so, y'know, no pressure.

The Old Palace is a ruin of marble and classic architecture, abandoned but often visited by children and locals from a village a few hours away (those are some bored and adventurous kids, man). The wild, still slightly mangled trees go right up to the walls of the Old Palace, and the armory is a squat building beside it. Several minutes of careful skill-checking reveals nothing inherently special about the old, plain wooden outer doors, which are even unlocked.

Careful inspection finds a central main hall, one door at the far end, and two other doors on either wall. One is trapped and disengaged by Ted, the other is safe. Behind door number 1? Something thin, grey, bulgy-eyed and standing over a dead person. Our crew sneak attacks and charges it dead in an instant. Knowledge check reveals it to be a doppelganger. Yeesh. Behind door number 2? Pair of ghouls easily dispatched by Thrasher.

In the doppelganger room, the corpse is identified as an elven thief/tomb raider, with something in the range of 2200 silver on him, plus a warhammer I successfully appraise at around 312 gold (given the base value of a warhammer, this raises the eyebrows of the ODM).

Additionally, each room's dimensions are larger on the inside than when viewed from the outside. They also both terminate in an additional door the same direction as the original entrance hall's next door. We pick the doppelganger room door.

Beyond this hall is a room conjoining the previous two rooms and entrance hallway, with doors leading back the way we came and into two other adjacent areas perpendicular to the main hall. There is also a staircase leading up from the entrance path, into a hall of magical darkness Ted can't see beyond. We search the next two rooms. One is empty, with another magical darkness staircase weaving back UNDER the other staircase's rough direction and the other is carrying a hellhound and (you guessed it) a third darkened staircase (down also). The beast is swiftly killed, and Ted experiments with some arrows to determine the hallway going down is just a veil and not, oh, a wall of destruction.

Descending the stairs we come into a short hallway with a door. Beyond the door is birds chirping; robins it sounds like. Flinging open the door we find... sunlight and sky. And a set of stairs going back up to another door along the outer wall. The only problem is, from our perspective inside the hall, the sky is below us and the ground is above us. An upside-down staircase. Throwing a coin onto the stairs shows it lands safely before rolling off the edge... and promptly falling straight up, to where the ground is.

So, our elves and half-elves (being immune to disorienting mind effects), take rope up and across the stairs, followed by Wolf who vomits into the air but stays fast to the rope. They prize open the door and find a counting room, and another hellhound (quickly beheaded). The rest of our team successfully attempts the cross, with myself almost falling off after three terrible rolls out of four, Wolf saving my life with a last-second successful grapple.

(To my utter newb embarrassment, it only occurs to me as I looked back to type this up that I could have easily used spider-climb, my newly acquired at-will Draconic Adaptation, to effortlessly traverse the stairs without falling :smallyuk:)

Beyond the hellhound counting room, another darkened stairwell up, this leading to a hallway with two flanking doors and a door straight ahead. In the left, we find a small room with six dire rats. Easy work for Wolf and myself, but Wolf has just unlocked Cleave, you see, and he is very eager to try it. And just at that moment, he rolls a 1. In close quarters. Near me. Yeah, just about took my damn leg off, along with over half my health. Clark heals me up and Graster gives Wolf a stern lecture on safety. (Wolf soon unlocked Great Cleave as well. Won't be standing within attack range of that guy anytime soon.)

The opposing room is clear, but again, two doors leading from there to possibly another conjoining space, and there was a pressure plate spotted at the end of the central hall. Sadly, we chose to end the day's session here, backtracking out (thus confirming we weren't yet in a complete Wonderland dungeon) and camping overnight at the distinctly non-magic, non-infested Old Palace.
We're looking to reconvene in another two weeks on this campaign, so stay tuned for more! (sorry HBA fans, but we're just getting juicy on this one, so the company's taking a break in Germany)

2014-01-12, 02:17 AM
Thanks for writing these awesome journals, keep up the good work.

Thank you for reading.

2014-01-13, 12:18 PM
I would just like to pop in and say that this campaign journal is brilliant. Normally I'm not one for first person journals, but I find Dorsid to be such a splendid character, and the writing to be of such a good general quality, that I'm thoroughly enjoying the (mis)adventures of Honey Badger Acquisitions to no end.

Bravo, good sir! :smallsmile:

2014-01-13, 05:00 PM
I would just like to pop in and say that this campaign journal is brilliant. Normally I'm not one for first person journals, but I find Dorsid to be such a splendid character, and the writing to be of such a good general quality, that I'm thoroughly enjoying the (mis)adventures of Honey Badger Acquisitions to no end.

Bravo, good sir! :smallsmile:

Thank you as well, sir. I beam with pride to know somebody actually likes my characters (or my expansive adaptation (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AdaptationExpansion) of the players' builds). I'm quite protective of these little beans. But I hope HBA continues to stick their feet in piles of feral beasts and survive by the skin of their teeth for some while. Because I'm also an abusive father, MUHAHAHAHAHAHA.

2014-01-14, 01:00 AM
It bears saying again:

This is an excellent journal.

2014-01-24, 01:50 PM
A little bit of extra information before this weekend's Champions Of Alleheim session.

Character Blocks:

Brother Dorsid
Cleric 5
STR 16 DEX 15 CON 17 INT 17 WIS 18 CHA 17
Feats: Magical Aptitude [probably a mistake given the dearth of magical items], Improved Initiative, Toughness (1) [remember, +3 at every level]
Equipment: MW Full Pate, MW Heavy Steel Shield, MW Heavy Mace, Warhorse named Donner, Pack Mule named Gunter
(Desired Equipment): Light Crossbow [my range game is weak]. There aren't many stat-boosting or enchanted items to be found as of yet, no better armor or weapons than special materials [hoping to get some mithral plate], and we'll see how many rods there are to find in the New World, but I'm at least hoping for a Nightstick or some other way to boost my metamagic without feats. I've planned for Divine Metamagic perm buff spells, but it's a long slog on Feats only.
Dragon Shaman 3
STR 17 DEX 15 CON 17 INT 16 WIS 16 CHA 16
Feats: Imperious Command [taking Skill Trick: Never Outnumbered at DS 5], Toughness [decent for now, but fine to sacrifice for dragonborn template as extra human feat], Improved Initiative
Equipment: Scale Mail, Heavy Steel Shield, Morningstar
(Desired Equipment): I can make myself light, decent armor later with my Craft (armorsmithing) class skill. I'll take Exotic Weap: Bastard Sword for a better weapon, but keep the shield. Higher likelihood of magic items here, so hoping to acquire Dragon Spirit Cincture, Gloves of Dexterity [for weakness shoring up] and Strongarm bracers [wield Large Bastard sword one-handed heh, heh]
Neither of these guys I'll likely multi-class.

Things I'm looking forward to:
- Finding out what's in the Armory and divvying it up.
- Getting a Sense Motive/Detect Evil on the Elvish Sage (waaay too convenient to just stroll back with some demonic ritual scrolls an elder caster heavily desires without cross-examining his intentions).
- Finding out where to find a damn Copper Dragon! (Maybe sneaking off to find a Blue Dragon and make some armor for our druid.)
- Eventually getting back to the rebellion and the political intrigues of humans (which might end up being small potatoes to the Demon plot we're trying to attack now, or reveal worse things than the Demon Prince; no cheating, Ryan!)

Also, check out the sexy new custom avatar (thanks, Ceika)! Brother Dorsid salutes all who enter this thread :smallwink:

Stay tuned.

2014-01-24, 02:39 PM
Well, you could be worse off on Magical Aptitude. And you could always talk to your DM about retraining it.

2014-01-26, 09:53 PM
The Other Campaign(TM) Part 5: What Happened in Session 4
As we'd left off having back-tracked out of the loopy Armory (or 'Treasury' as the DM called it this time), the group decamped from inside the abandoned Old Palace of Immervauld and re-entered the following day, choosing instead the central upward staircase instead of the left-hand upward staircase. We come through a doorway leading us back into the opposite end of the hallway containing the dire rats room... only the entire thing is upside down to us.

From here, we ferret out some traps, and look in the two remaining rooms, empty but for one with a desk, a key, and switch on the floor. Oddly, the desk is on the floor for us, but would've been on the ceiling had we entered the other way. Ted checks everything and establishes the switch reverses gravity locally before Wolf/Cohen claims the key and we move on. (Though Wolf's player couldn't help but say he rubbed his junk on it first. Recently granted Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering, ladies and gentlemen.)

We backtrack again to the three stairs area, and head down the last winding staircase with darkness effect. This takes us to another short hallway, terminating in another staircase with darkness aura. The middle of the hallway open up onto two more rooms, really just large alcoves, with doors on the walls the way we came. One room has a bunch of emptied chests, the other had a Medium-sized preying mantis (killed in short order by Thrasher and Ted).

Ted heads up the stairs to find a small entryway before a set up double doors. He hears hissing behind them. We all assemble up, and I pray there isn't a basilisk. Izera and Sumac fling open the doors as Ted has an arrow prepped and the fighters are formed up for rushes.

Inside the door are four Lizard men. Before the ODM (as Thrasher) decides to get him some iguana-on-a-stick, I make use of my Draconic and tell the opponents to "Hold your weapons!" The response is "go f**k yourself!" So, to battle it is...

Ted puts an arrow into the one that said that (a slightly larger leader), while Wolf goes to flank and attack him. He fumbles and his greatsword is thrown against the opposing wall. Thrasher and Graster (me) jump in and start laying a hurt. I actually get my first successful critical insta-kill:smallbiggrin:. Thrasher cleans up with Whirlwind. Aside from a handful of silver, the Lizard men are carrying two gems; I appraise one at about 30gp, and another at about 5,000gp. Yikes. But it was a 17 check, so I try and be skeptical.

Surveying the room, we find ourselves in the elongated legendary weapon room, flanked on both sides by racks of aged arms and armor, some with plaques detailing their history, others with little to no information. This is all conveyed to us on a sheet consisting mostly of a broad range of +1 to +2 items, some with additional effects.

The "best" arms are several longswords, one with a frost damage effect that Wolf claims, and a "God's Malevolence" sword that also has Evil/Outsider bane that no one takes. I spy two +1 bastard swords, one plain, the other with a flaming damage effect. And in parentheses is written "sex change." I've heard of the girdle before, but... With a sigh, I ask the DM to tell me about this.

"The legend written below details the sword belonged to a queen who took up magical arms to become a warrior against a besieging army, and was transformed into a man as part of the magic."

I turn over the notion back and forth in my head between the vanilla bastard sword and flaming sword. Fearing an eventual run in with some trolls or other creature best faced with a fire damage weapon, I take a breath and announce I use my security disenchantment scroll and remove the flaming bastard sword... Nothing happens. So I name the thing "Fireclaw," strap it to my back and carry on. I take a +1 breastplate as well.

At the end of the room on a raised dais is the demonic banishment ritual we came for. Izera, being are only character with some arcane expertise, takes the scroll in case of any backlash. Luckily, there's no Indiana Jone style traps. We leave the building, only to be met by a squad of six Elvish royal guards, there to escort us back to the King. We ask about the Sage, and he had to be evacuated to the palace because his tower was overrun. Also, the last day we spent inside the Armory/Treasury? Two weeks have passed.

It was a two day trip to the elven palace, and while we could have just taken some short rolls for the inevitable Misshapen attacks, it was agreed we should try out our new arms and armor to check our strength. The resulting fight involved 100 small 4 mediums, and 8 large. They also encircled us. Needless to say, it was a little bit worrisome. But within a few rounds, the fighters and ranged specialists had taken out a good 15 opponents... And then came the roars.

As we slowly whittled down the monsters, taking little damage ourselves and keeping all of our guards alive, we encounter the HUGE Misshapen. Some of them just look like many smaller ones lumped together ala the Flood, others are just seamless, nasty mounds of gaping maws, long tentacles and rippling mass of pain. Thankfully, the DM rolls poorly (Bahamut be praised!) and even soloing these things our crew holds together and pulls through with no casualties. I think Wolf took 6 points of damage (as well as dropping his greatsword AGAIN) and a few guards took fumbling damage from others.

We quick roll the next day's travel and resulting fight. We gain less xp, but successfully arrive at the elven palace. We're immediately taken before the King and Sage. Izera does roll a Perception check, but the Sage passes, so no evil vizier vibes there. The Sage will take a night to research what we give him, and we're put up for the night by the King. We spend the rest of the night buying and selling in the markets (I finally get my damn Masterwork Artisan Tools!), in general trying to put ourselves in the best position for what's coming next.

The DM tried to inform me that I woke up the next day as a woman, after using the magic weapon, but I did not, however, make use of my new bastard sword throughout the long fight in the woods, so the DM was rebuffed**. The additional damage would have been nice, but given how close the rolls were (the 100 little buggers taking 21 to hit), a -4 penalty would've had quite the negative impact. Even still, it was a pretty good battle, maybe even our best so far. Sheer numbers dwarfed our fight in the Berlin castle in HBA.

**(I honestly imagine if the transformation had taken place, I would have gone from this (http://www.magweb.com/picts/actor/60205/vladimir_kulich.jpg) to this (http://static3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130323180009/gameofthrones/images/8/87/Brienne-of-Tarth-game-of-thrones-31362150-639-960.png). Still a solid, upper Medium build human, and rather more sociable than my comrades. Just slightly easier on the eyes, no less dangerous:smalltongue: Besides, my character is questing to become a Dragonborn of Bahamut, he don't care about freaky transformations).

The next day's court meeting has the Sage reveal he needs to be at the place the Demon Prince was originally summoned, which means traveling aaaaaall the way back to the slaver's fortress outside Cupron (8.5 days from here). A little bit of Diplomacy rolling gets the King to agree to supplying us a caravan for travel and 12 mounted guards. And there we close the session.

Some of you might be asking: Hey, what about that key? Good question! Nobody did anything with it, and to my knowledge it remains in Wolf's possession. We'll see if it has any significance outside the Armory, or we needed to use it while there.

Also, it *might* have been a mistake leaving the God's Malevolence behind as well, given we're about to face an evil outsider, but the ODM wagered it was an intelligent weapon ("a pain in the ass"), which the DM confirmed. "As in, it would constantly harangue us to 'do the right thing' even if it caused us great inconvenience?" I asked. "Yes." "Well nuts to that, I'm Pragmatic Good."After our session ended (because we'd actually reached the end of the DM's prepared content), I got a chance to quiz the HBA DM over a few things and get some advisory notes for going forward. Those who are more fans of HBA, don't despair! We're scheduled to head back to our characters in Germany the weekend of February 15th!

In other news, let me ask some advice: while I've been dumping skill points into Craft (Armor) at each level, I'm hesitant to keep this up. Do the spell-like abilities of a DS count as having a Caster Level? Would the math work out to make constructing our own magic armor worthwhile? (The DM has said, 'there will be no magic item store fronts' so buying enchanted arms direct may never be an option.) Nevermind, DM vetoed. :smallamused:

2014-02-21, 01:10 AM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 9, Part 1

Chapter 42, Downriver
The politics of the situation in Germany quickly began to spiral out of our meager sphere of influence. We had alienated ourselves from the favor of the Lady, and most of the lords were already concerned with their positions in the new hierarchy of the noble houses. It was just as well. Rumors were swarming of fresh plots and military campaigns being planned for the first day after the oncoming frosts melted. The company agreed to avoid joining an army and riding onto the fields for some new opportunities in the New World.

In the days after our award ceremony, our glistening rewards of valuable gems were quickly traded and spent by each of us in turn. The morning we were to make for the river steamship and head south again, I found myself walking down a lane of crafting shops, looking in at various weaponsmiths' storefronts for a particular item. I found it at Armstark And Sons.

Several minutes later I was carrying my new purchase strapped to my back, along with a folding pack of sturdy iron bolts. The crossbow I had bought was a smaller, weaker make than Cohen's, but it offered me the ranged ability I had been lacking in our recent encounters. Between the hell spawn cooking my face and evil warrior priests with more combat ability than I could currently muster, I was beginning to see the practical value in remaining apart from our enemies. The weapon was not of a quality that could match the dwarves' work, but it’s curve and finish bespoke of a seasoned, professional hand. The yew wood itself was inlaid with various skilled detail. The hardy German carvings depicted nature landscapes, giving it more the air of a huntsman’s tool than soldier’s weapon.

After purchasing my new equipment and reclaiming Donner and Gunther from the local stables, I made one last stop at St. Hedwig’s to leave a letter for the Prelate regarding the company’s new venture to the New World. There were ponderous matters greatly stirred up by our presence in Germany, but it seemed as if more powerful players were getting involved and they would soon outstrip us in terms of ability. I hoped that our time abroad would help us further our individual training (as well as allow me chance to investigate and confirm what I had discovered in the library). I did not strictly speaking require the Prelate's permission to take my leave from the country, but as he was my superior it would have been bad manners to leave without notice.

The bustle of the city streets became an interesting variation of itself as I entered the river district. Fish merchants and dry goods traders hollered their wares and negotiated prices straight from the barges while hungry street urchins made dashes for handfuls of sustenance. The passenger ship was hard to miss. It was one of the newer designs, supposedly harnessing fire and smoke instead of wind, current and animal strength. There was a great deal of metal framing it, as well as several odd, large iron tubes cradled in wood frames. These were pointed outward from the ship, akin to ballista artillery, and manned by several English infantry guards standing amidst piles of unknown supplies.

" 'Sposed to be some of those fancy new 'guns' they talk about," Cohen said in a hushed tone as we secured our steeds. “Probably need the show of strength, this being an English lord’s vessel.”

"The Earl of Devon is a wealthy man." Wen added, walking up behind us. "His trade company can afford the best. Nice crossbow, priest." She touched my back where I had strapped the weapon. “A hunter’s bow, this. I might be able to teach you a thing or two by the time we make shore across the sea.”

“I can give the holy man his crossbow lessons,” the fighter said, slapping me on the back in a way I’d learned to anticipate and brace myself against.

“You? Don’t make me laugh, Cohen. You’re a terrible marksman.”

“Power over accuracy, Wen.”

“Spoken like a true barbarian,” she muttered, walking away.

Thanks be to God, minor squabbling was all we had to deal with on the journey downriver. There were no bandit raids or mysterious paranormal events. Just milling about and commenting on the weather. It was a welcome change to road travel and court intrigue, but I still needed to occupy myself by mingling with the other passengers returning to the South.

A travelling monk gave mention of the former Prelate of England, now residing, coincidentally enough, in the county of Devon, eastwards of London. His replacement was not in favor of the current crown of England, showing a growing distance between the royal house and the Roman papacy. A minstrel gave further illumination to Lord Devon, citing news that he was soon to marry an Elvish magic-wielder. This led to a growing debate as to his own reputed elvish heritage (“pointy-eared bastard”), if he himself practiced wild magic and whether this had relevance to the history of human/elvish intermarriage in the royal line.

This all came to a head as we reached the border of Germany and England, which on the river was barricaded by a considerable bridge and gate structure… which was practically crawling with elves.
Chapter 43, Seaside Folly
The crowds of elvish travellers put a quiet pall over the steamship, but the guardsmen quickly established this was merely a coincidental traffic jam of citizens to and from their home county of Stanley, and that nothing too worrisome was afoot. This did not stop more rumors from flying, however. In the midst of all this, the entire boat was required to disembark for security sweeps, tolls and the paying of new, English-side travel expenses, remarkably higher than in Germany. Ah, to be home again.

The steamship quickly resumed with all do speed, depositing a number of goods and passengers into London, and picking up replacements bound all the way to Portsmith. It was a welcome sight to have glimpsed London again and now be heading towards the location of our incorporation, but we were all of us anxious to see the coast and book passage to our final destination. What none of us expected was to encounter an even more strange series of gates one day from Portsmith.

The gates were arranged in a series, one after the other with room between for two large barges side-by-side, and possibly some smaller rafts floating in-between. The gates were so large and dense I wondered if they were of dwarven design. This notion was encouraged by what we witnessed while passing between them. Between each gate opening and closing behind us, the water level would rise, carrying our ship from well below the high walls of the gate to sitting just above their top edge. Several of the river crew and seasoned traders chuckled at our childlike awe, other cursing unseen issues that delayed our progress, but it remains a strong memory for me that leaving the abbey had opened a much wider world of strange new things.

Eventually we were deposited on the other side of the gates, and the steamship paddled away until it pulled in to dock and disembark us at the extensive port that gave the city its name. While the others milled about near a tavern, Mokaaj and I went to the dockmater’s building to book passage for the company. We found a collection of salty older gentlemen, variously scribbling over thick logbooks and spouting off incoherent strings of numbers and items that translated into some kind of meaningful information to the others.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said to the nearest portly, bearded worker. “When is the next passenger ship heading across the Great Sea?”

The man gave me a deep squint from one eye, then checked a set of books beside him. “T’ain’t no passenger ships for some time, priest, but there be a freighter outward bound in two days time. She’s anchored not a few hundred yards from my door.”

Mokaaj and I bowed deeply. “Thank you. And, what would the name of this fine vessel be?”

“The Lollipop.”

I stared at the man. He stared back.

“The... Lollipop?”

“That’s right.”

“Out of curiosity, why would a freighter ship be called that?”

“Can’t explain the logic of sailing men to a landborn, lad. It makes it’s own kinda sense.”

I slowly nodded my head and backed out of the shop, pretending not to notice Mokaaj stifling laughter behind a hand.

We made our way down the docks until we came before the Lollipop. It was a swift and sharp-looking caravel, with great blue triangles for sails. The captain (a man by the name of Newport) didn’t normally take on passengers, but given the rates he could charge for transporting cattle, he was happy to bend the rules a bit. While doling out our coins, Mokaaj gave an impressed gasp and directed my attention to several large ships, with masts as tall as castle towers, and too many sails to count. Each was flying the English crown high above its deck.

“Ah, those’d be the Royal Mail Runners,” Captain Newport said. “Fastest in the entire navy, royal or merchant. Only three clippers that size in existence. Lost art, they say.” He stamped at several slips of paper and handed a stack over to me. Our writs of passage. “We sail just before dawn day after the ‘morrow. Don’t be late.”

The remainder of our stay in Portsmith was relatively quiet until the night before our departure. Robynn had been especially antsy after learning that most of the prosperous Thieves Guild had been wiped out by another adventuring party we had come to hear of often, and those “security experts” that remained now owed allegiance to the famed paladin of said group, forswearing much of their past customs and brutal standards.

I tried to explain how good it was that there was lower crime and violence this way, but she was unswayed in her misery. Drinking heavily also did little to raise our friend’s spirits, and things reached a peak that last night. Looking for additional amusement, our tiny thief heard tell of a local bar challenge, which could win her some small amount of local fame. Without hesitation she agreed to “the Balut.” At the announcement of the name, a mighty cheer went up from the assembled drinkers and there was chanting of the name. Robynn began standing on her chair, raising her arms in jubilant excitement.

I wanted to ask what exactly the Balut was, but there soon was a steaming pot slammed on top of our table. From within, the cook of the tavern ladled out a whole egg, placed it on a plate before Robynn, and then cracked it sharply with his utensil. He looked at Robynn and motioned with his hand for her to proceed.

“HA! Is that all? A boiled egg? No problem.”

Her deft little hands quickly peeled off a fair portion of the shell and raised it to her open mouth. The rest of us had stiffened somewhat when seeing what lay within the shell.

“Uh… Robynn…” Cohen started.

Before he could finish, Robynn had bitten into the Balut, producing an audible crunch. With this, everyone in the room dropped to complete silence and Robynn looked from our horrified expressions down to the item in her hand. Inside of the shell was the tiny form of some avian species, halfway between solid and jelly in its development. And its head had just been bitten off.

Robynn took a few seconds to roll the piece of flesh around in her mouth before dropping the rest out of her hand and sprinting out the front door. As soon as the sound of her retching reached their ears, the bar erupted into laughter and further cheers.

“I need another drink,” Cohen said.
Chapter 44, A Crossing
The Lollipop set out early the next day. Other than a bit of fighting from our animals and continued seasickness from our thief, the new embarking went rather smoothly. With fair weather, Captain Newport estimated he might have us across the Great Sea in as short as two weeks. This struck us as rather pleasant news, and we celebrated that evening with a few more of our more precious rations of dried fruit and rum.

Our excitement was quickly dampened by how grossly tedious and uneventful a peaceful crossing can be. By the third day, my archery practice was the main source of entertainment, not that it improved our spirits or my skill much. As the freighter sailed further north, the wind began to bite more and more, and we knew winter was setting in. Brother Jerome had gifted me a crusader cloak of deep crimson after the fight at the castle, and I was happy to have an extra layer to block out the oncoming season.

The crew was, if not overly sociable, at least not hostile. They were men about a job, and passengers on their ship was an unwelcome change. We kept to ourselves mostly. By the end of the second week, at least half the company had begun to spend most of their time rotating between sleeping and aimlessly pacing the deck. The final morning saw myself and Wen topside, both of us bundled up and shivering slightly while the Lollipop continued cutting a swift line across a foggy but mostly gentle surf. And then the cry came up.

“Land ho!”

The first rocky islands began to appear and the boat tilted slightly as the crow’s nest called out heading adjustments to the helmsman. Eventually the mists had thinned enough and a shoreline came into view. The cliff faces were high and sheer in this new land, with tall coniferous trees densely packed atop them. We followed the shore for about half a day before it swung open to a large bay, with a number of small fishing vessels skittering about. A series of docks peppered the shore, with a steep trail leading up to a hill, where sat the town of Roanoke, capital of New England.

This settlement was nowhere near the majesty of our homeland, but it kept our isolated company transfixed as we made our way into the harbor. Before we knew it, the captain was requesting we prepare our things before disembarking. A fond farewell was not in store, it seemed. The crew had supplies to offload, and we were treated similarly. A few of the local shore workers looked up to see who had come from abroad this time, but beyond brief stares at Robynn and Wolfie, we drew little notice.

Roanoke was a mixture of wooden buildings and stone walls, all decorated with fresh snowfall. It appeared very much like any other English hamlet, if a bit more rustic and unfinished. There were some spots in the walls and housing that looked recently destroyed and were in the process of being rebuilt. Cohen and Wen made particular note of this. At the settlement entrance, we were stopped by guards who seemed more interested in assessing us to see if we were human more than if we were armed and appeared duplicitous. Mokaaj made a point to place her hair over her ears and smile extra sweetly at the guards.

Once inside, the party split up with various objectives: Rhivi and Wolfie would take up their usual positions outside to scout and provide warning of any raids, Wen and Cohen would visit the traders for traveling provisions, Mokaaj would feel out any signs of magical residue, I would charm up the local clergy and ruler for information… and Robynn would reconnoiter a bar.
Chapter 45, Small Town News
The town chapel was one of the few landmarks of the area: a steepled, austere building with hardy, reinforced doors. I found my fellow priest working to plug up any pesky open seams in the building come about with the influx of winter. He returned my warm greeting as a brother of the holy church of England with a narrowed eye. I had to remember such a pronouncement in these times carried more meaning than I often intended. I made proper introductions in Latin and he offered me a seat and cup of mulled wine.

I asked after the people of the town, and whether they had ever had an incident involving the strange deaths and purple worms befall them ever before. The priest recalled only such incidents from the Old World, which the Paladin herself was recalled to deal with, and not having any word from her since. The only other events of significance was the frequent raiding parties of orcs. The creatures operated somewhere outside of the coastal valley Roanoke was nestled in; there was a mountain pass that cut through the valley wall and allowed entry into the desert beyond.

I thanked my colleague for the drink and information and offered the company’s aid in the event of emergencies. I next found my way to the office of the local Duke, a respectable if diminutive manor, but was quickly denied entry. Already the night was creeping in, so I decided to make my way back to the tavern Robynn had asked all of us to meet her in when we were finished. I entered the establishment (The Polled Elk, if I recall) to find our mirthful thief dancing about from tabletop to tabletop, pulling handsprings and backflips to great applause and several proffered drinks. Amidst the revelers was Cohen, cackling with the rest. I caught his eye and he waved me over.

“How long has she been at this?” I shouted over the crowd.

“About ten minutes or so!” he bellowed. “She tried getting information, but the locals haven’t had much to deal with! We’re the first bit of fresh life they’ve seen in awhile!”

“No orcs or anything?”


I sighed and looked round. At the very least, this was a better result than the last bar we visited.

“Where are the others?” I yelled into Cohen’s shoulder.

He jabbed a finger vaguely at a corner. I spotted Mokaaj and Wen seated together, nursing steaming mugs, and went over to join them.

“Quite a show the little one puts on, eh priest?” Wen quipped at me.

“She certainly likes to draw an audience for one so skilled at skullduggery.”

“Ha! Didja hear that, Mo? The holy man cracked a joke. We truly are in a new world.”

“Only to temper bad news. There’s little new information in town. Nothing on the mysterious deaths in Waystation, or recent activity from the local raiding parties.”

“We heard that from the shop owners too,” Mokaaj said quietly. “Apparently there’s an outpost up the mountain pass. They’ve been fairly effective at keeping them subdued lately.”

“Any luck scaring up work with the local lord?” Wen said.

“I’m afraid I could not even gain an audience with him.”

“*tch* You’re slipping, priest.” She turned her attention back to our compatriot’s entertaining of the crowd.

At this moment Robynn finished her routine to uproarious applause then called for quiet.

“And now, my friends, I would like to tell you all the story of how Honey Badger Acquisitions saved the life of the King of Germany!”

“Presumed king…” Wen muttered into her drink.

“It’s a tale I like to call, The Night of A Thousand Ninjas...”

I covered my face with a hand as ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Ahhhs’ followed, with many chairs being pulled out and legs thrown onto accommodating tables, stools and laps.

“Well,” Wen said after draining her beverage. “Guess it’s time for this famous adventuring band to return to its roots.”

“Which is?” I asked.

“Wandering aimlessly until we find a crypt or temple worth stealing from.”

Chapter 46, Through The Mountain Pass
We left the following morning to appreciative waves and shouted encouragement. Robynn treated this as if she were a royal princess receiving a grand send-off, but it was more likely a case of bored townsfolk noting the latest group of crazy treasure-seekers to head off to get themselves killed. Several wagons followed us out on their way to farms, trading idle chatter for a few more exaggerated stories. Outside of the walls of the town, the colony opened up to rigidly cleared forest and farmland already prepped for winter. Outside of the estates of nobles, I had never seen much farming, and it was almost breathtaking to see how the commoners parsed and bred their land for crops without much interference.

The route out of the valley was not so much a road as a well trod path. As we made our way further and further out for several days, Rhivi noted markings on trees not felled, with spigots at the bottom; a gooey, thick substance was being harvested from them, but not the syrup we were used to seeing at home.The steep climb up the cliff pass was tiresome, but paid off in the view it afforded. We spotted a trail of smoke rising from the south, indicating a refinery, and I took my time as rear guard to chart out the size and scope of the valley. It was obviously formed of an astrological impact, just like the legends described in the Mages War.

Three days came and went while we journeyed out from Roanoke. No orcs or wild animals bothered us in this time, and the party was beginning to grow used to sleeping well. But everyone, surprisingly even myself, was getting anxious for our next true challenge. Everyday without battle was making our weapons and armor that much heavier to carry. Eventually a small group of buildings and a mine entrance revealed themselves. Armed guards confronted our group of strange mercenaries directly.

“State your business, you lot,” said a particularly gruff looking man not much older than myself.

I handed over our Portsmith charter to him, which he peered at for a long moment. Eventually one of his comrades looked over his shoulder.

“Whasit say then, Charlie?”

“Dunno, Thomas. Sommit official like, though.”

I took back the charter with a muffled sigh.

“We’re an adventuring company from England. Have there been any attacks on this mining camp recently?”

“No. Between us and the regiment at the outpost, hasn’t been any trouble at all recently.”

“What about within? Is there anything we might be able to assist you with?”

The one called Thomas shrugged and looked back at his fellow guards.

“Could always use another strong back down the mine.”

There was an audible grunt of derision from Cohen.

“Erm, thank you but no. How far to the outpost?”

“‘Nother coupla miles straight up the path. You can’t miss it.”

I nodded and smiled amicably and we made our way out from the mine presently. There was bit of chuckling and jokes made, but I marveled at how we, a small company of six with barely a few decades of experience between us, could seem so much more worldly than a few townsfolk guarding a mine. There but for the grace of Almighty God…

The outpost was near the peak of the mountain pass. It was a cavalry post in the frontier style: all wood, raw timber lashed together save for the tops which were cut into sharp points. The entire complex, the outer wall plus several barracks, stables and supply stores, lay smack in the middle of the path, acting as a gateway between the mountain and the rest of the valley.

The men on watch responded a bit more quickly to our announcement as an adventuring company. We were asked to dismount and surrender weapons before entering, which we did, the others begrudgingly so. The commander at the outpost asked us after our business and we repeated the refrain of being a party for hire and looking towards the security interests of Roanoke. The information was more direct from this front line; the orcs had been raiding the area about once a month, always coming over the valley wall from the desert. Their exact location was unknown, however, scouting parties had sighted a large pyramid about a week’s travel from the crest of the mountain. With no further leads, we resupplied and gathered as many extra waterskins as possible, preparing for an arid crossing.

Chapter 47, Desert Nights
**background travelling music (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pHQuCezmLE)**

Before setting out, we refreshed our animals at the outpost’s well, and filled every receptacle that could hold a liquid, Rhivi even going so far as to procure a bucket from the quartermaster. Mokaaj and I prepared our magic to conjure as much water as possible, though without any way to properly carry the volume. The commander warned us that beyond the valley, the winter season would over little respite, as the day’s sun could turn all of the sand into a cooking plate. We endeavored to make it over the mountain before nightfall and then press onwards, planning to camp during the next day.

Half a day’s journey took us to the top of the mountain pass where 11 stakes had been planted into the ground. Upon each was a rotted, fly-eaten orc head. They were less monstrous than I remembered from the drawings I had seen in the abbey’s books, but there was the tell-tale elongated lower tusks, the sharper than elves’ ears and pallid grey skin (though whether this was natural or post-mortem I could not know at the time). We took this to be a true sign we were entering hostile territory and kept our guards up.

Just beyond the crest of the mountain top, as crumbling rock gave way to pebbles and then fine grains of sand, Mokaaj could spy the glimmer of the pyramid, an obvious landmark in what appeared to be a largely featureless desert. There few dunes and no large rocks. Rather than try and spot a trail, we headed straight for the single obvious target. At the end of our first day’s travel, including an exhausting attempt at travel by night after a full day’s march, we had the problem of trying to water our horses and mules without a simple way to feed the conjured water. Eventually, I asked Rhivi to have Wolfie dig a large pit in the sand, and to Robynn’s protest, lined it with the royal fabric she had “discovered” one evening out in Berlin. And now we had a fresh watering hole. It would always produce more than necessary, and leave an obvious trail, but we were already camping in the pure light of day, so it was just one more lesser problem to bare.

Miraculously, we were not set upon in our days of trekking across the desert. The largest problem we had to deal with was trying to sleep comfortably under the heat of a blazing sun. At the end of a grueling week of travel, with the sleep patterns of nocturnal animals, we arrived before the pyramid. As one of the first ancient buildings of the world I saw with my own eyes, I sadden even now at my inability to properly convey its size and grandeur. By our dungeon experts, the structure was easily 900 feet across at the base, and certainly far taller than anything one of us had seen before in our lives. Mokaaj’s bird familiar described a vertical eye at the capstone, a marker that would become clear in time. Aside from inscriptions of a lost language, the most significant other feature were the huge doors inset to the side of the pyramid we arrived at. So wide that were they opened, twenty people could march in side by side.

“Right. Give us a hand, Dorsid,” Cohen said after we had all dismounted. “We’ll see if we can’t force one open a crack.”

Cohen and myself placed ourselves against the rightmost door and heaved with all our might. Robynn made a half-hearted attempt to aid us from behind, though I suspect she might have only attempted this for the opportunity to grasp out buttocks. As it was, the door only moved a few inches before seizing horribly. There was likely an obstruction beyond the door, barricade or otherwise, that would not allow us easy entry.

“Well, what now?” Wen asked.

“I have a solution,” Mokaaj piped up from behind her spellbook. “But it will have to wait until after tomorrow’s morning meditations.”

“This is dangerous territory, Mo,” Wen said. “We can’t stay out in the open.”

“We won’t…” and with that, the elven mage had rope unfurl from her bag and string itself up into the air. From there, she deftly climbed it before disappearing into an unseen trapdoor above her. Several moments passed before she poked her head out again. “You’d best join me now, this only last for so many hours.”

One by one the ladies climbed the rope, with Wen the last up into Mokaaj’s sanctuary.

“I’ll stay out here with the horses,” Cohen said flatly.

“I will as well,” I said.

“Have it your way, boys.” And Wen vanished up the rope ladder.

A visible shiver went up Cohen’s spine. “Magic. *uhk* It may have saved my arse on more than one occasion, but I still don’t trust it.”

“Neither do I, Cohen. I just trust God to help when I ask.”

The fighter quirked an eyebrow and rolled his mouth a bit, but said nothing more. It was likely his personal stance on theism had swayed a bit since meeting me, but he remained mostly non-religious. We took up various jobs, building a covered tent for the horses and making a camp for ourselves with our backs to the doors. It would be an uneasy sleep, but unavoidable. I finished the night as always with a prayer to God for luck and favor in the next day. As ever, it was not unwarranted.

- Aaaand we're back! Sorry for the delay.
- There was a fair bit of info dump in this session, but all for a better understanding of where we stand in regards to the build of the campaign vs our current levels; to remain in Germany and start getting involved in the war, the DM required we be at level 10. So heading out for the New World's quest lines seemed, if not mandated, then heavily encouraged:smallwink:
- The Other Adventuring Party was last active in this campaign some 10 or so years ago, but I'm trying to get their name (and the name of the influential lady Paladin). The DM's notes on that were unavailable on game day.
- Robynn (rftexas) had an unfortunate Constitution roll that led to an immediate failure. At first, Cohen and I assumed she would be trying to eat something akin to a Century Egg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_egg), but a balut (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balut_%28egg%29) is distinctly different.
- Rain shadows (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rain_shadow); for when you want a game's patchwork map (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PatchworkMap) to make actual sense :smallsmile:
- It was actually very fortuitous that Robynn had stolen some of that royal silk back in Berlin, otherwise our hydration strategy for crossing the desert would've been more problematic. The DM didn't press us to keep track of it that much, but at least wanted a plausible explanation; so every time we stopped, we would dig a small pit, line it with the fabric, and I would fill it with a Create Water.
- Half the session was rushing us through the travel and actually getting ready for the upcoming part. Unfortunately I feel the need to actually write out the stuff most others would skip over; I know it's not that eventful in game terms, but I feel it gives a very good scope of the world (and that's especially true in the face of the next part of this session.

Look out for Part 2 with the actual combat encounters (sorry for the blood-for-the-blood-god fans :smallredface:) in the next several days.

2014-02-21, 11:37 AM
It's the peaceful travel that's always so unnerving to me.

What level are you all at?

2014-02-21, 07:41 PM
Yeah, I actually expected several sea encounters during the crossing, but nada. Got there quick and easy. When we arrived ashore I turned to Robynn's player (who always assumed nothing was planned to happen) and said, "you really should have bet money on that; you'd've won some money just now:smallsmile:"

We were level 5 at entering the pyramid and remained so after the encounters listed next.

2014-02-21, 08:27 PM
Great story as usual, glad to see updates.

2014-02-24, 01:33 AM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 9, Part 2

Chapter 48, Into The Pyramid
The company was fast to reassemble after resting fitfully. The sun was just setting again as we marshalled our forces around the doors while Mokaaj began her spell. She waved her hands in circular motions several times, as if drawing in strength, and the air itself began to heat up despite the fleeing sun.

“Frapi...” she said, thrusting two fingers outward. “Frapi!”

An invisible wave of force slammed into the doors, and an audible thundering crash could be heard behind it. After the noise had died down, we remained in formation in case something appeared from behind the massive doors.

“Well, if anything was in there, we’ve certainly woken it now…” Wen said.

Several minutes passed before Cohen cursed and advanced. Without hesitating, I joined him and we once again pressed our whole bodies into the gate’s right half. Slowly but surely, it gave way, and there was a dragging sound inside.

“Robynn, check inside,” Cohen hissed after a sizeable enough gap had been created.

The small thief sidled up around us and gingerly shoved her head into the gap, craned her neck around, and removed it all in one fluid motion.

“Nothing but an empty room. There’s a big piece of wood on the floor behind these doors. Must’ve been a brace.”

“It’s getting dark,” Cohen said. “Mokaaj, you’ve got the best eyes. Light a torch and take point.”

The elf was somewhat squeamish to lead the charge, but Wen gave her a reassuring look as Cohen and I continued pushing the door open. We slipped inside two-by-two, entering the entry way beyond. The room was spacious enough, thirty by forty feet, and could easily house our horses and campsite. Rhivi led the animals in behind us while Wen and Robynn watched the single narrow hallway leading into the pyramid.

“Okay, we’ve corralled them, but who manages them while we’re gone?” Wen asked.

“Wolfie can do that,” Rhivi said with a smile.

“That wolf’s liable to eat them as much as guard them,” Wen snorted.

“That’s not true!” Rhivi pouted.

“If he tried that on a warhorse,” Cohen noted “He’d get kicked into a wall.”

“That wouldn’t stop him…” Wen said.

“That is true,” Rhivi said.

Cohen and I moved the doors back into place, covering our entrance from any raiders arriving outside. Robynn had Mokaaj accompany her forward slowly as she checked every inch of the hall. I tell no lie that it was very tense for me at the start of our entry, wondering when another tell-tale noise would sound the arrival of a roomful of heavy rocks on our heads.

Blessings upon us, the entire hall was safe right up until we arrived at the end, facing a hastily made barricade of rotted wood. Cohen shuffled his way to the front, and the barrier came apart in his hands. Advancing in front of Mokaaj with our shields out, we came into a great chamber that swallowed up the torchlight. The sounds of our footsteps echoed off of a high ceiling and distant walls we could not see. There dull blue glows emanating from distant areas in what we assumed to be the corners of this chamber, but nothing more could be gleaned. All Mokaaj could immediately see in the dim light beyond the torch was a pair of pillars that must repeat across the grand hall.

“Well,” Cohen said, “Somebody pick a direction. Forward, left or right?”

“I’d say we should try to feel out the walls first. Keep our backs to something anyways,” Wen said.

“Agreed.” Robynn added. “Hey padre, how ‘bout more of that throwable lantern action?”

I muttered a bit of Latin and a copper coin began to glow from inside with divine power.

“Neat,” Robynn smiled. “Just chuck it towards the blue light over there to the left.”

I wheeled my arm back and hurled the coin across the unlit space before us. As it sailed away, a number of shaggy, crouching forms were outlined briefly, in addition to rows and rows of jagged teeth and inky, evil eyes reflecting the light back at us. The coin landed amidst a crowd of these beasts and a brief, guttural bark erupted from somewhere and a hail of arrows were let loose directly at us.
Chapter 49, Teeth From The Dark
The volley passed by most of us or glanced off our armor. Except our torchbearer. She was quickly punctured by two arrows.



“Get her out of here!” Cohen bellowed, advancing in front of her.

From the shadows a dozen more creatures attacked, creeping up on digitigrade legs almost completely silently. They had lupine heads and feet, but their hands were human-like save for the extended claws. They walked slightly hunched over, accentuating a thicker tuft of their body, giving them the appearance of being humpbacked. One was upon me before I could think, and a large battle axe slammed into my ribs, producing and immediate shock of pain. A broken rib, most likely. I leveled my crossbow at the beast man’s face at point blank range, but in my shock I fired just past his ear and sent the bolt clattering into the darkness. I quickly dropped my crossbow and reached for my mace. Before the fiends could swarm us, a thicket of strong roots and brambles erupted from the stones beneath our feet and began entangling our nearest attackers.

“That won’t hold them long!” Rhivi cried.

“I just need a moment to- ARH!” Mokaaj’s words were cut short by another arrow.

“Robynn, grab Mokaaj! Get her back into the hall!” Wen shouted.

A cry went up from the beasts; a shrill, mocking chitter, almost like laughter. It was answered by many similar howls in the distance. Amidst the dim light and near the blue glows, we could see more heavy figures massing. Cohen and I were now heavily engaged in blocking any stragglers while Rhivi let loose another ball of fire and began roasting a group attacking our right flank. Robynn aided Mokaaj in moving out of the melee.

“Come on, Mo! We’ve got to retreat!”

“I know just- Vento Muro!” With a gesture, a vicious whirlwind was kicked up and held in place between the backs of the attacking line and the unseen archers. Just as another volley came soaring in, the arrows were scattered like splinters. Rhivi summoned another rolling fireball to strengthen our left flank and we moved as one back towards the hallway.

I arrived first and kept near the doorway, crossbow redrawn and at the ready. Robynn followed quickly, supporting Mokaaj who took up the rear guard, followed quickly by Rhivi and Wen, with Cohen last. As we reached the relative safety of the hall, Robynn attempted to fling a bullet at several foes trailing her heels but only succeeded in snapping her sling in half. With another word and hand motion, Mokaaj summoned a thick mist in front of the foyer, giving us further cover from ranged attacks. A gang of fiends had still closed the range and were hammering away at Cohen as he stepped back into the hall.

Mokaaj let loose a volley of energy missiles and whittled away at several, while switching off her extra bow with Robynn. The thief and I attempted to shoot around the doorway melee to lighten Cohen’s burden, but it was hopeless. Just as Cohen had begun to clear the door, the fell dogmen pounced on him as one and carried him to the ground.
Chapter 50, The Crescent And Thunderbolt
The hallway became cramped with bodies as various wolf men sought to savage Cohen with teeth and claw. The fighter did not sit idly, struggling and grappling the entire time, but the sheer weight of his attackers kept him pinned. For our part, Rhivi and myself began using our weapons as blunt clubs to try and beat several of the beasts off of him, to moderate success. Mokaaj blasted another creature off, producing a high-pitched whine as it expired, and with a greater freedom of movement Cohen swung his mace wild, only for it to impact beside his own head.

Wen punctured several more before smacking the last across the head with her bow. The company pulled together into the open entry room and we placed Wen and Robynn on sentry duty. I quickly laid hands upon Mokaaj and Cohen, and Cohen quickly prepared for another attack.

“Just a moment…” I stopped him. I extended my middle and forefinger at my friend, making the sign of the cross. “SED LIBERA NOS A MALO.”

“What are you doing, priest?”

“Giving you more armor, warrior.”

After a few moments, I nodded to the others and we resumed our formation, ready to strike back. We marched back into the hall standing before the alcove. Empty but for the fallen corpses. The mist began to clear and the only light remaining was the distant blue glows and still smoldering corpses from Rhivi’s fire magic. Just as Cohen stepped beyond the alcove, a number of arrows began to clatter around him and two stuck deep in his shoulder and leg. There was the distant sound of scurrying just softer than a light breeze.

“Ah-....hsssss...” he bit down on his pain and slunk back into the alcove where we had all flung ourselves against the two walls or back in the hallway. As Cohen fell against the wall, Robynn worked to swiftly break off the shafts.

“Dorsid… light the center...” he managed between gasps of breath.

Nodding I palmed another coin and spoke a prayer. Then I flung the brilliant disc into the area that had previously held a line of vicious archers. As soon as it left my hand I readied my crossbow to fire. But the coin fell and rolled to an empty spot. The archers were gone.

“I’ve exhausted my lighting spells,” I whispered.

“I’ve got it covered, holy man,” Rhivi said

From our hunched grouping in shallow cover, she extricated an arrow from Wen’s quiver and muttered some words I could not understand, eliciting a similar glow to mine. She offered the instrument to Wen, who sidled around Cohen against the left wall. He gestured over his shoulder and she nodded. With a quick movement, she leaned her bow out from the wall and fired towards the right corner. It similarly fell and clattered to an empty space. Hefting his shield, Cohen stood into the open again. This time no arrows flew. He beckoned us to follow him.

Making our way over to Wen’ arrow, we discovered the wall had another shallow alcove, this one holding two stone statues, one male with a thunderbolt symbol in its chest, the other female with a crescent moon symbol. Both held the very faint blue glow we had been seeing.

“Mokaaj, check these statues for anything like we found in the catacombs in Waystation,” Wen said. “Cohen, help me keep an eye out.”

The pair of them stood facing out with ranged arms ready. I busied myself trying to discreetly heal some of Cohen’s fresh wounds. Mokaaj detected a magic aura from the pair of statues, while Robynn affirmed no physical mechanics or traps. As I turned an appraising eye towards them, I noted the symbols and shape of the figures seemed very old, and definitely pagan.

“Shift places with me, priest,” Cohen said without turning.

I hefted my crossbow and moved to replace him out front. Cohen turned on his heels and began examining the statues as well.

“What are you doing, Cohen?” Wen said, eyes focused on the empty darkness before her.

“I have… a hunch… I’m going to touch this female...”

“Cohen…” I began.

“Respectfully, Dorsid.”

Just as Cohen’s hand gently rested on the crescent moon, I could hear a sharp intake of breath, followed by the blue glow intensifying briefly.

“Are you alright?” Wen asked.

“Mmm, yes. Better than. The arrow wounds are gone.”

“Gone?” Mokaaj asked.


Without another word, Mokaaj moved to the male statue and rested her hands upon it. Again, a shock of breath and brighter glow.

“What are you doing, Mokaaj?”

“Testing a theory. And I was right. This statue renewed my arcane energy.”

I quirked an eyebrow and looked over my shoulder at the elf. While before, her injuries had left her somewhat paler and haggard, she appeared bright and fresh now, like coming out of the adamantine sarcophagus again. She nodded at me and advanced to hold the line against our invisible attackers. I slowly stepped backwards before gently lowered my weapon and placing my hands, respectfully, on the male statue. There was a quick rush of shock and then a comforting relaxation. I could feel the Lord’s blessings returned to me.

“Amazing…” I muttered.

“Not the first time we’ve found a fountain of healing, priest,” Cohen sniffed.

“Even a repeated miracle is a miracle, my friend.”

“Yeah, and it looks like this miracle might repeat in every corner of this hall. Let’s see.”

With renewed power, Rhivi and I enchanted several more coins and illuminated the front of the great hall from wall to wall. The opposite side held the same statues identical to the others. They appeared to operate by the same principles, however, an experiment by Robynn (with Cohen as her unknowing specimen) showed us that each statue could only be used by the same individual once. While bandaging a still bleeding cut on Cohen’s arm, I asked Wen to fire on more arrow as far as she could across the hall. At a range of about 500 feet, the arrow arced and fell into another unoccupied territory. Our actions had no further effect and no sudden attacks came from the shadowed corners.

“You said you thought the pyramid measured some 900 feet on each side?” I asked Wen.

“Yes,” she said.

“Just halfway...” I said. “And they’ve moved around the light silently the entire time.”

“Didn’t seem like they even needed it, really,” Cohen remarked, rubbing at his bandage. “Bet my next hot meal they can see in the dark like dwarves.”

“They’ll be hiding until we force a fight, then,” Wen said. “Hit and run. It’s what I’d do.”

“Got to take away the element of surprise then,” Robynn noted.

“We don’t have enough torches to light this whole hall. And the ones we have wouldn’t last long enough,” Mokaaj added.

“I have an idea,” I said finally. “But we need to backtrack to the camp.”
Chapter 51, Preying On The Predators
Back at the camp, Wen and Robynn used what scraps they could find to build a passable weak barricade in the hallway entrance, if only to slow down any scouts. Several hours had passed since our initial entry and we were all in need of rest. Rhivi assembled a small campfire which we gathered around, consuming what meager rations we could eat without cooking.

“What’s the plan then, Dorsid?” Cohen asked after taking a swig from a prized bottle of whiskey he had arm-wrestled a sailor for on the Lollipop.

I was busying myself with one of our unlit torches, whispering some rites and blessings that were among the first I ever learned from Brother Ezekiel.

“We don’t need to light the entire hallway all at once. We just need enough to surround ourselves with. Individual torches will give us forty feet, so enough for wall to wall, which was…?”

“About 120,” Wen said.

“Three torches laid on the ground covers that. And then three more to throw ahead of us.”

“Even if we used all our torches, those animals could still douse them with piss or something,” Cohen scoffed. “It’d never work.”

“Precisely,” I said. “So we’ll need torches you can’t douse.”

With a final word, the torch in my hand flared to life, it’s flames licking at the air.

“That fire can’t be doused?” Cohen asked, taking another swig.

“No. You could carry it under water if need be. Also,” I reached out and touched the flame to the end of Robynn’s long braid.

“Hey!” she squeaked while falling over backwards.

“It doesn’t burn,” Mokaaj smiled. I handed the torch over to examine. There was a fascination creeping over her face, just as when she saw the statues and sarcophagus for the first time. I grabbed another torch and began tracing invisible lines on it with my fingers, just as the brothers had taught me.

“How many of those can ye make a day then?” Cohen asked.


“*ack* Bloody magic,” Cohen stood up and began to pace while shaking his head.

“I’m sorry, but while the magic will last until dispelled by a stronger caster, the energy it takes to make is still at the peak of my current ability. But I will work as quickly as I can.”

“Don’t blame yourself, Dorsid. He’s just bent up by getting waylaid by those… things. They’re better stalkers than even I’ve seen. But I think with your idea, we can hunt them down.”

“I hope so,” I said. “But in the meantime, Mokaaj and I will spend the rest of our time between this project and doing a little digging as to what this place is…”

In the ensuing days, I awoke shortly after sunset (or rather was kicked awake by Cohen) and set about making more eternal torches. When that was done, I sat with Mokaaj and walked her through my lessons in divination. Together, we reached out into the walls and spaces surrounding us, seeking answers. As I listened, God spoke to me.

The pyramid was built long before the Dark Times, at the behest of a great Wizard-King. He was a man of great arcane power and wisdom, kind and just. But in time, as his knowledge and ability grew, he began to feel unburdened by responsibility to any earthly or heavenly authority. The arcane power slowly corrupted him. His final living act was in building a shrine to his own might, in which he intended to…

“No, oh no,” I whispered.

“Dorsid, what is it?” Mokaaj asked.

“Undead. The master of this tomb. He was a necromancer. And he even… He turned himself, Mokaaj. Into one of them.”

“A lich. A lich who is still here, deep within this place. Along with the servants and creatures he drew to himself.”

The news was troubling, but in trying to explain this to our comrades, they glossed over the mention of undead to hear about what else lay in the tomb.

“There are some artifacts of great power here. But they are likely well-guarded and secured by ancient traps. Both physical and magical.”

“Well then,” Cohen said, hefting Athena. “Looks like we’ll need to clear out the scum before claiming our prizes.”

After days of preparation, we were ready to make another attempt at claiming the hall. Each of us, save Rhivi, had prepared a bow and readied ourselves for battle. We slowly crept back through the hallway, encountering none of the corpses from before. The dark dwellers seemed just as adept at reclaiming their dead without notice as striking from the shadows. As we reached the alcove again, Mokaaj made a surreptitious scan of the nearby walls.

Along the far right, a group of the creatures could be seen encircling a low fire. There was some noise of howling from the assemblage, but deeper within, the elf spotted two larger beasts sparring one another. This seemed to be distracting the rest of them enough from watching their flanks. As one, we lined ourselves along the lip of the alcove, preparing a firing line to attack and quickly retreat into the hallway once again.

“Steady, aim…” Cohen whispered. “Fire!”

All at once we loosed a volley into the crowd, each of our arrows finding its mark, two beasts dropping dead immediately. The crowd was quickly thrown into disarray as they realized their camp had been set upon by the invaders again.

“Reload!” Cohen barked.

The company quickly prepared and fired again before slinking back into the hallway, Cohen and myself remaining outside to herd the wolf men. As their padded feet swiftly carried them across the tiles, Cohen laid aside Diana and hefted his mace.

“Heerrree, doggie, doggie…” he muttered.

The crush was quickly flooding around us, helpfully funneled by the alcove. Just as Cohen deflected an attack and prepared to retaliate… his mace skipped from his grasp and flew into the ground.


Another fierce scavenger threw itself at Cohen in his disadvantage, but he deftly spun and threw it aside, where it partially impaled itself on Diana. Unsheathing a dagger, Cohen moved to slit the fiend’s throat. The rest of the animals then flowed as one to pounce on the fighter again, but were quickly ensnared again by more roots that Rhivi had called from beneath the deep desert sands. The monsters erupted into their shrill howling, but Mokaaj added a mystical web on top of that, stopping most in their tracks completely.

As I took my time lining up shots, a single wolf man crawled his way far enough out to take a swing at my legs. Unfortunately he was not as agile or free as he thought, and his swing came back on himself and severed one of his own legs. He spasmed for a moment before dying of shock. I had to keep from chuckling in the frenzied madness before me. In the next instance Mokaaj had lit the web on fire, and those that could began to run from the fight while still aflame and shrieking in a mixture of fear and pain. With cold efficiency, Cohen slit the throats of those creatures still too entangled to run away, before picking up his mace and slowly cranking his heavy crossbow back to its loaded position.

“Alright then,” he said when finished, a look of satisfaction on his face. “Let’s hunt some wild dogs.”
- So, yeah, Gnolls. Nasty buggers. In the game, we're now up to: worm construct/mummy, skeletons (1st session I missed), dire rats/vermin (same), bandits, undead/zombies, evil clerics, ninjas, dwarves, elves and now hyena men (nobody had Knowledge(Local) to identify them in-character).
- Mokaaj really upped her game here with tactics and utility (as well as having not only our initial supply of torches, but an extra bow for Robynn to switch out to, which she might just keep using rather than have me mend her sling).
- Ah, the hallway bottleneck. A classic tactic I had read about all over this site and was practically giddy to pull off in our own game. I actually complimented the DM on giving us our very own Mines of Moria/Battle of Balin's Tomb scene. It was pretty wicked envisioning how this went down from our characters' perspectives.
- I don't have access to full Divination as a Domain spell at level 5, so there's a bit of storytelling fudge to work in quest details the DM was sprinkling in for our benefit post-game.
- The Pyramid was summarized as something like 6-8 sessions worth of content (or more), culminating in a lich boss (eek) and before that his four underlings (oh boy). So we're staying at this campaign for the foreseeable future, true believers :smalltongue:
- Outside of the game (and away from the DM) I questioned whether a bunch of young adventurers arriving in a foreign land and facing something completely unknown to them like gnolls in near darkness wouldn't require constantly rolling Will saves out of fear and intimidation. Logically we thought that made sense, but thankfully it wasn't a feature implemented in these encounter.
- Both the DM and his wife (Wen&Rhivi) were roaring at us to hurry up and "get on with it," charging straight into the large chamber, but Cohen, Mokaaj and I knew that greed or no, you don't let an opponent just have a tactical advantage when you can work to level the playing field. We're newbs, not brain dead (Robynn just wanted the shiny).
- At the end of the session, the DM said that the last time players had ever entered the pyramid location was in 1976. I derived a fair bit of pride from that, as well as some awe at how it made the feeling of entering a (supposedly) lost tomb so real when it was created as an idea decades ago, and then hadn't been touched in a game session for so long. Until Honey Badger Acquisitions came along :smallbiggrin: Unfortunately, the other party was level 10 :smallfrown: Here's hoping we get some good XP in this mega-dungeon.

Next meetup scheduled for March 9th. Leave comments and questions 'til then!

2014-03-31, 05:08 PM
Hey all,

Sorry for the long hiatus. Getting a start-up going is eating most of my off-hours. But it's all coming together nicely.

But yes, of course, you're here for the gripping tales of Honey Badger Acquisitions.

A new session write-up is forthcoming, real soon, I promise! I've just gotten sidetracked by other projects lately.

That's the good news...

The bad news is while we normally would have played another session of HBA since March 5th (and we did play), the DM was missing the old hack 'n slash a bit, so we're likely dipping back and forth between HBA and The Other Campaign more than I'd earlier said:smalltongue: Sorry.

TOC: Session 5
So long story short, we took our guard of 12 elves and marched our way across the land, getting a little automatic XP from a DM-rolled fight against more Misshapen. Then we get to the Keep, still seemingly abandoned. The Sage sets up in the earlier used summoning sigil, and gets to ritualizing. And once again all light goes out. Even Ted and the half-orc Thrasher can't see. Yup. Demon's back. What proceeds is a 20 round fight while the Sage performs the ceremony and the guards encircle him like complete statues. Thanks, guys.

We have two doorways to guard, only two squares wide each. So everybody that can meat shield meat shields, though it mostly comes down to Thrasher going full defense with intentions of suicide (the DM literally planned to die rather than flee). Luckily, Sumac/Mokaaj's familiar (a healing cobra:smallconfused:) and my Dragon Shaman's aura kept him barely alive. Between that and my newly minted Acid Breath, we held the Demon Prince and his hordes at bay until the Sage finally banished him from the mortal plane. Huzzah. Ding Level 5 and end of the session.

2014-04-27, 06:11 PM
A Cleric's Vocation: Being A History of the Ascension Wars and Holy Reformation, From the Journals of Brother Dorsid

Session 10

Chapter 52, An Empty Throne
Our group proceeded as planned. The first three torches were thrown ahead, and we steeled ourselves for a fight as we carried the rest our light forward. With no immediate response, Cohen gave the signal to throw the next set outwards even further and carry the torches lying on the ground. This went on for an agonizing amount of time, everyone’s nerves on edge from the previous fight, as we slowly marched our way deeper into the grand hall. The only sound beside our muffled footsteps was the brief, shallow clattering that each group of eternal torches made a they were thrown and fell to the ground. They didn’t sputter or crackle; just a noise of wood hitting stone briefly.

There was no sign of the beast men other than the corpses of their fallen which had been left behind. No effort had been made to reclaim them now. We eventually came to the end of the hall, which terminated in a trio of ramps, two ascending twenty feet into the air to a raised ledge that ran the width of the hall, and a third descending down. Cohen ordered the marksmen to spread out and manage any surprise attacks while Robynn had her work cut out carefully checking the terrain for any signs of lethal artifice.

With a safe path established, the little thief embarked on an exploration of the ledge, happening upon a raised dias upon which sat a stone throne. Cohen and Wen lead up the rest of the company, watching the ends of the ledge that went in either direction into distant hallways.

“Well?” Wen asked, coming up near the dias, her bow still drawn and trained away down a hallway.

“This throne looks picked fairly clean,” Robynn said, indicating several indentations devoid of jewels. “Either those beasties got at it or tomb raiders long ago.”

“Anything else?” Wen asked.

“Yeah. I think that wall behind the throne has a door.”

Everyone, even Wen, threw an appraising squint in the wall’s direction, trying to see the outline of a door.

“Trust me, it’s there.”

A few extra minutes work showed no hope of forcing the door by physical means.

“We should check one of these hallways or the ramp downstairs,” Mokaaj stated.

“Hang on,” Cohen said, “I have an idea first.”

The rest of us held our position while our resident bruiser slunked away back down the ramp and his individual torch carried him back a ways into the hall. His return trip was slower than before, and as he approached, we could see him laboring to carry something that he was making a considerable effort not to hold too closely.

“Oh, really, Cohen!” Mokaaj recoiled.

In his arms was one of the monster’s lifeless corpses, which he carried up the ramp, and then bellowed for us to retreat from the throne. With a heave and grunt of effort, the man-wolf was slung roughly into the throne, where it rested somewhat, or rather caught itself in the seat and armrest. We all waited patiently, but no result came from this, save for a slight tearing noise as the creature’s wounds opened, releasing its entrails and bowels all over the stone chair.

“Well…” Wen said. “We’ve marked our territory.”
Chapter 53, The Doors
Robynn and Wen pulled Cohen away from his failed attempt to open the throne door through unseen mechanism, and advanced down the left hall. At the end of it was a rather large set of solid bronze double doors, with what appeared to a large central lock and a star-shaped keyhole. From the outside-facing hinges, Robynn surmised the door would swing outward into the hall. A quick reconnoitering found identical doors at the other end of the ledge walkway and at the bottom of the ramp.

“Well… all the doors are locked and there’s no sign of those monstrous scavengers,” Wen said. “Options?”

“Do we go looking to see if we can find a key to fit that lock?” I asked.

“Bah!” Cohen scoffed. “I’d rather dig through solid stone than that… In fact...”

Cohen began to palm and feel about the door, examining the narrow seams between the wall. Then he traced the lines and contours of the hinges and pins while mumbling to himself. Wen walked up beside him and the two shared a hushed debate in secret. When they were done, Wen made a motion to huddle round.

“We’re going to unseat the door from its mounts.” She was already unshouldering her pack and dig around for some tools. She handed a solid mallet to Robynn. “You’re going to wedge out the pins, and then our big strong gentlemen are going to shove the door backwards.”

“And what if the door falls back on us?” I asked with some skepticism.

“Then you’d best be fleet of feet, padre,” Robynn said, before

The work was tedious as the little girl wedged the heavy tools between the grooves of metal and pounded and hammered to wedge out the pins. The noise produced was tremendous, and the rest of us stood ready for a sudden attack with all the attention we were likely bringing to ourselves. But none came. Robynn continued to hammer out the pins, Cohen narrowly dodging a thick bolt of metal falling on his head as she stood on his shoulders, until most all of them were free.

“Hold on!” cried Mokaaj. This was the first thing anyone had said for some time, so it startled a few of us out of our reverie. “We should use some rope to tie the doors to their hinges, then light them apart.”

We looked around at one another. It was more work, but given we were in no hurry, and it would keep Cohen and I from some amount of extra danger, it was agreed upon unanimously. More time passed in the dead quiet tomb and we were all prepared to set fire to the rope unsteadily holding the door upright.

“Alright,” Mokaaj said, “Let it go, Robynn.”

The thief knelt down with an actual lit torch and touched off the oil soaked ropes. The flame snaked its way up the various coils, produced a pungent smoke and eating away the rope. Eventually, the massive doors were left without any supports holding its weight in place. It remained standing.

“Oh, bollocks!” Cohen screamed and heaved Robynn’s mallet at the mighty entrance, producing a resounding deep bang.

“Cohen, honestly…” Wen said, rubbing her temples with her off-hand.

“This is ridiculous!” The fighter shouted, apparently all pretense of creeping our way through the tomb having left his mind.

“I’m not picking that up,” Robynn added, crossing her arms.

A cross look from Wen sent Cohen slowly skulking his way towards the lost tool, foot by foot, inch by inch, with a wary eye ever towards the loose doors. Just as his arm was within reach and his fingers grasped the metal of the handle, he moved his entire body in one motion and vaulted back several yards before sprinting back away from the door.

“Very brave,” Wen frowned upon being handed back her mallet.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. How are supposed to move this damned door?”

It was another round of back-and-forth debate before we realized our best option was to forgo more intricate attempts and simply utilize brute force. Utilizing the the tomb’s entrance barricade as a battering ram, we could work together and push the heavy doors back over their threshold. It was another hour’s work to transport the beam of heavy lumber back across the area, but our impatience at the lack of progress was hastening our actions. Back before the doors once more, we arranged our company evenly and rocked the beam so that it solidly struck the doors dead center, producing a noticeable amount of dust from the seams but little other effect.

“That didn’t work!?” I cried from the back.

“Hit it again!” Cohen bellowed.

The doors were struck several more times, seemingly rocked a little more inward each time. Unfortunately, our aim was a little lower than it should have been, as the doors creak audibly and begin to fall forward.

“Move!” Wen yelled.

We all dropped the beam and made to sprint, but at the last moment my foot caught a divet in the stone and I fell to the floor, just outside the range of the doors. A resounding crash muted the cries of my friends, but as the wall of noise was not met by a wash of pain, I surmised I had lucked out on being squashed. Turning where I lay, I saw that the door had missed me by a hair’s breadth, and now pinned our battering ram under several thousands pounds of solid metal. Beyond the doorway extended the rest of the hall, further lit by our few, dim everlasting torches.

“Still in one piece, then?” Cohen asked as he helped up.

“For now,” I answered.

“Good, because that likely woke up anything still slumbering in this place.” As if to underscore the point, he hefted his mace and shield.

“Take the lead, Robynn,” Wen said, readying her bow.

Just inside the doors, was a low, circular dais. It was flanked on either side by two extraordinarily large humanoid statues, easily 18 feet tall. They were largely featureless and devoid of extraneous detail. Robynn advanced to kneel before the stone circle and examine it. Just as she did, the sound of stone sliding on stone could be heard, and the surface of the platform split in two, allowing a skeleton to rise from a chamber beneath. A low cawing sound was heard, some combination of its jaw unhinging and perhaps an ethereal scream, as it reached for our small thief.
Chapter 54, Earth And Blood
Cohen lunged forward with his mace and lay into the creature, collapsing its ribcage and sending it reeling. I matched his attack but only managed to catch air. Robynn deftly rolled backwards between us and set about preparing her bow. The rest of the company tensed up in the doorway and readied their weapons.

“Should we retreat back down the hallway?” Wen asked.

Just as she asked this, the skeleton lurched forward with lethargic energy, grasping at Cohen feebly.

“Erm, I don’t think so,” he answered, leaning back without much effort.

Rhivi and advanced with her quarterstaff to make short work of the skeleton. That’s when the statues started to move.

“Golems!” I cried, shifting to a defensive posture to guard Rhivi as best I could from a living mountain.

“You just had to open your big mouth…” Wen muttered, firing an arrow deep into the chest of one of the constructs angling towards the fighter. It sunk into the thing like hitting thick sculptor’s putty with a deep “THUNK.” Mokaaj followed up with another of her volleys of magic, producing several large holes alongside Wen’s arrow. These gouges quickly closed themselves up and drew little response from the creature, who continued marching forward towards Cohen.

“Tough guy, eh?” the warrior muttered.

As an after-thought, I swung my mace low to my side and knocked a leg out from the skeleton, sending it down onto its hands. Just as it looked up, Rhivi shattered its skull with her quarterstaff. The rest of it crumpled to the ground still once more.

“Good work, but keep to my rear,” I said.

At the loss of their comrade, the golems pressed the advantage. One lurched at Cohen, but stumbled and fell in slow motion, its massive weight carrying it down, but its strength assuring it was in no great hurry. The other caught me off guard from my mace swing and soundly beat into my shield arm, with an audible pop going off in my shoulder. I swallowed a hiss of pain.

“Let me try another spell,” Mokaaj called from the back.

“Nnnng… No!” I called, marshalling my focus. “No good… They aren’t susceptible to any spells.”

“How do you know?” She called back.

“I know! Trust me. We’ll need to beat the life out of these things.”

“Works for me…” Cohen said.

Wen and Rhivi moved to back me up while Cohen re-doubled his efforts on his opponent. The creature was laborious in its movements, and large enough of a target, but eventually withdrew itself inward and held its pose for several brief moments.

“Had enough, eh?” Cohen said, while beating away at the monster’s sides.

Soon enough, the golem moved with renewed purpose, and its swings had much more speed and grace, catching our fighter more easily on his shield and arms.

“Oof! Faster than they- Ack! -look!” he huffed.

“Keep focused!” Wen screamed, just as her bowstring snapped and she cursed to herself.

As the group adjusted to compensate, the other golem performed the same supplicative gesture and laid on the fury, battering me near senseless. My bones creaked, my muscles tore, and I could feel liquid pouring from my ears. I silently prayed it was blood and not brains. Off to our flank, Cohen, stood bloody-nosed but grinning as the other golem collapsed before him, crumbling into a heap of misshapen clay.

This advantage did not seem to sit well with the homunculus’ brethren, whose eye sockets, while devoid of eyes, began to glow a dull red. This was proceeded by the beast shuddering horribling in what I assumed was a silent roar, and then swinging with even more wild abandon. I dropped my mace and crouched behind my shield, trying to draw focus away from Rhivi, Wen and Mokaaj, who were quickly beating a hasty retreat. The golem’s wailing on my armor was taking quite a toll and a gritted my teeth in agony, trying to hold the line. Through the white haze I thought I spied Cohen and Robynn circle around the construct and attack its rear flank in a piecemeal fashion, to little effect.

Just as I felt my legs being crush into the ground, the golem’s arms seized in mid-air, and it fell straight forward onto the ground, lifeless once more. I collapsed to my knees instantly, gasping for breath. Mokaaj was at my side instantly.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

I motioned feebly with a raised hand and she stepped away. Robynn poked around at the mounds of clay, finding nothing, and curiously uncovered the skeleton was of carved stone, and not human bone. More distressing a discovery was when I attempted to heal my injuries with a murmured prayer and felt no respite. The wounds we had sustained from the monsters were cursed.

“C… *hack* Cohen…” I rasped, spitting out blood.

The warrior trudged over, intentionally hiding a slight tweak of his hip received in the previous battle. “Good grief, priest… Set on fire, stabbed with poison sticks, and now bludgeoned near death by a piece of wall… You must be favored by God.”

“Not so favored… *huh* ...at the moment… my friend,” I wheezed. “Help me up.”

I explained in hushed tones the predicament of needing to return to one of the healing statues and my comrade made little reaction but a shouted declaration of needing “a good night’s rest after such a slog” and we began to shuffle our way back towards the main hall. Thankfully the awful wolf men stayed their hand another day, and our party was able to mend and return to our camp at the tomb’s entrance in one piece.

As our marksmen tended their broken bows, and Cohen regaled all with an embellished retelling of the golem encounter, I anxiously continued my meditations with the fresh knowledge that traps and dangers awaited us that my divine powers might be unable to protect us from...
-Aaaaand we're back! Though this session concluded awhile back, it's been a very hectic time, so write-up's taken awhile. How's everybody been? Good? We've got new boards! How awesome is that?
- Short bit of commentary this time, but suffice to say, we took A LOT of time with so many braniacs at the table trying to work on getting through the door, to the great amusement of the DM, who just wanted us to shove it a bunch, but whatever.
- The Golem fight was the second time Dorsid came very close to dying, and the reveal that none of our spells could heal the injuries was "ruh roh, Raggie"-inducing, to say the least.
- The DM and his wife are still in the process of moving, so until that settles down, it's a bit longer until we're back to HBA and the tomb of the wizard-king.

2014-04-27, 09:39 PM
Golems hurt. I hate fighting them so much.

Out of curiosity, do you retain Summon Monster on your cleric list? Distractions and fodder are my favorite way of dealing with magic immune beatsticks.

2014-04-28, 12:07 AM
Not in the past, but keeping slots open for that as we progressed into higher levels was part of the plan. Mokaaj has been our crowd-control specialist more-often-than-not, but I'd like to pop off an encounter with some of our namesake dire celestial badgers harassing the necrotic baddies of the tomb ;0

Fiery Diamond
2014-04-28, 01:39 PM
I'm just gonna reply as I read through.

Finished session 1. I'm enjoying this immensely. It feels... well, how should I say it... real. That is, I can easily see this in 3 lights: 1) a D&D game (was that a Mhorg you were fighting? What level did you start at?) 2) a story (it really has a lot of integrity with the way you wrote it, as though I'm looking at a light novel or something) 3) an in-universe account (it actually reads the way you intended - it feels like I'm really reading the "account of my adventures as a wandering cleric" of a fictional character, rather than as though it's an imitation).

For what made me laugh out loud this time:

“Wen’s right,” Cohen said. “Let’s head back through the tunnel and root out any more of those bandit bastards.”

I coughed loudly.

“What, holy man?”

“Language, please.”


“Our refined friend has sensitive ears, Cohen.” Robynn said. “He meant, ‘professional mercenary’ bastards, kind sir.”

Robynn beamed as I rolled my eyes and followed the puzzled Cohen back out of the room.

I actually had to cover my mouth to stifle my laughter since I'm in public.

2014-04-28, 02:24 PM
Glad you're enjoying this, Fiery.

I honestly have no idea what the "worm suit" was, but it definitely wasn't something directly sourced from someplace else. We started at level 1 and are going until we TPK (or just get bored with campaign).